Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Although they are a small minority, and despite the difficulties, "the Christians in Lebanon want to be leaven in the mass, for the Middle East. This is why we encourage t missionary experiences; this is why we have translated the in Arabic the text by Blessed Paolo Manna, PIME, 'Observations on the new method of evangelization', the first book in Arabic for the formation and missionary animation" . This is what Fr. Paul Karam, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Lebanon says in an interview with Fides in view of World Mission Day, next October 23.
What are the main initiatives for World Mission Day in Lebanon?
We presented the Pope's Message "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" in a public conference to raise the faithful Catholics and non awareness. On this occasion, we also presented the Arabic translation of Blessed Paolo Manna’s book, founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union, "Observations on the new method of evangelization". The text will be distributed on the occasion of missionary Day: it is the first book in Arabic for formation and missionary animation. The publications of the PMS are distributed to all parishes and eparchies (dioceses) and Catholic schools in Lebanon: so it increases the missionary sensitivity of children, youth and adults.
What are the activities of the PMS focused on?
In line with the Assembly of Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, and in agreement with the Episcopal Commission for Missionary Cooperation, presided by His. Exc. Mgr. Elias Nassar, we are dedicating ourselves to visiting schools, founding new groups of Missionary Childhood: so far we have 24, while in 2006 there was only one. We believe it is very important, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of Catholic Schools in Lebanon, to motivate children to the missionary spirit. We also work closely with the seminars, among which the Maronite Patriarchal Seminary.
What are the main objectives and the main means for evangelization?
The aim is to focus more on the missionary dimension in the formation of future priests. For example, the seminarians are beginning to have a month of missionary experiences in different countries of the Middle East, like Jordan, Syria, or in other contexts such as Ethiopia, Chad, India. Despite the problems, the Catholic Church in Lebanon still has considerable potential in the number of priestly and religious vocations. We believe that Christians, even though they are a minority, may be the leaven in the mass and salt in food.
What are the main challenges for Christians in the Middle East?
Christians have an important role to play in their testimony, their openness, dialogue and solidarity. Lebanon has an important role in promoting the mission in the Middle East because the Arabic language that binds us to many other countries, facilitates communication, in order to spread the Word of God. Some eparchies, such as Maronites of Byblos, send missionary priests to serve the Christian communities. In Lebanon, 18 different denominations live in harmony. We pay attention to what happens around us. We hope that there is a climate of true democracy, without oppression of minorities, so that they do not pay the price of political interests. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/10/2011)