A synod for the Middle East

UPDATE: Additional info in our story.

VATICAN CITY — Vatican sources are saying that Pope Benedict XVI will convene a Synod of Bishops for the Middle East to be held in October of 2010, to address the trials and tribulations of the Christian population in the region.

Jordanians and pilgrims celebrate as Pope Benedict XVI visits the Melkite Cathedral of St. George in Amman, Jordan, earlier this year. Pope Benedict was making a week-long pastoral visit to the Holy Land, which has seen a major exodus of Christians for years. (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

Jordanians and pilgrims celebrate as Pope Benedict XVI visits the Melkite Cathedral of St. George in Amman, Jordan, earlier this year. Pope Benedict was making a week-long pastoral visit to the Holy Land, which has seen a major exodus of Christians for years. (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

Patriarchs and other representatives from Eastern churches were arriving in Rome Friday, and the pope was to meet with them Saturday morning to discuss the initiative, the sources said. An announcement was expected in coming days.

Pope Benedict has spoken frequently about the pressures faced by Christian and Catholic minorities in the Middle East, particularly in the Holy Land and in Iraq. The synod would provide an opportunity for a much-needed strategizing  session at the level of the universal church, one source said.

Late in the day, the Vatican press office released the names of the patriarchs and other representatives meeting tomorrow with the pope. They include the Chaldean patriarch, Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad; Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem; the Lebanon-based Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre P. Sfeir; and representatives of the Ukrainian, Syro-Malabar, Coptic, Melkite, Syrian, Armenian, Romanian and Syro-Malankar rites.

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