Interview with Joseph Farah, President of Caritas MONA (Middle East and North Africa)
What are your expectations for next week’s synod? What main challenges in this region should it address?
Mr. Farah: The Middle East is a fragile region. People feel insecure and have to face situations of permanent belligerence, in particular due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many people don’t manage to make ends meet. The Church is already very active in different fields. It stands up for reconciliation and peace. With its different organisations, one of whom is Caritas, it works to improve people’s lives. But it is not enough. We need to make greater effort.
The Caritas MONA region is very vast. It goes from Mauritania to Iran. This region is very particular. At both the levels of religions and civilizations, it is pluralistic. This pluralism can even be found within the Catholic Church. There are Maronites, Syriacs, Greek, Armenian and Latin Catholics, Chaldeans and so on, and all those Churches have their own hierarchies and social organisations such as hospitals and schools. The cooperation between Churches and with other confessions needs to be strengthened. More efforts should be undertaken to develop partnerships for concrete action and engage in dialogue.
To what extent will the synod help you tackle these challenges?
Mr. Farah: Thanks to the synod, the Christian community will get a better understanding of current problems faced by this region and its populations and therefore be able to multiply aid and reconciliation initiatives. A better coordination between Catholic organisations in the different countries would allow us to strengthen our action in favor of the poorest and improve the well-being and security of local populations.
The outcomes of this Synod could also be used elsewhere. Due to its numerous challenges and its pluralism, the Middle East is par excellence a testing ground for the spirit of reconciliation the Church would like to promote in the interest of humanity.
How can Caritas contribute to this synod?
Mr. Farah: Caritas is used to interacting with other NGOs and faiths in the Middle East in its efforts to help the population and promote development. On the occasion of this Synod, we wish to communicate and share this practical experience of embodied charity.
What we are doing is “dialogue through action”. Our charity is for all the poor, whether they be Christian, Muslim or others. The different Caritas members in our region hope that the universal spirit of solidarity will be made a concrete reality in the form of a permanent and efficient partnership.
The synod recommendations could lead to tangible and practical outcomes that Caritas would be committed to achieve so that social and civil security will be established for the people in the Middle East.