Pope Benedict announces Middle East synod

Pope Benedict XVI said on Saturday he planned to summon a special synod of bishops to discuss the Middle East in October next year, the Vatican said in a statement.

He was speaking to Roman Catholic Church leaders from the region at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence outside Rome, the Vatican said.

"I will not forget the call for peace you have put in my hands ... and my thoughts go firstly to the regions of the Middle East," the statement quoted the pope as saying.

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"I am using this occasion therefore to announce the summoning of a synod of bishops for the Middle East which will take place from October 10 to 24."

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