Pope's Mideast ambassadors to summit at Vatican

Vatican City — The Vatican's seven ambassadors throughout the Middle East will hold a summit at the Vatican this week that will be addressed by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Pope Francis.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi announced the convening of the Vatican officials, formally known as apostolic nuncios, in a short press briefing Tuesday.

While neither Lombardi nor a statement issued by the Vatican gives firm reasoning for the summit, it comes as focus around the world is centered on efforts to combat the Islamic State militant group.

Announcement of the meeting also comes following an address Monday by Parolin at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where the Vatican official said the world is "seeing a totally new phenomenon: the existence of a terrorist organization which threatens all States."

Among those participating in the Oct. 2-4 Vatican summit include the apostolic nuncios from Egypt, Israel/Jerusalem/Palestine, Jordan/Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. Also present will be the Holy See's representatives at the United Nations in New York and Geneva and at the European Union.

Vatican representatives attending will include Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, and representatives of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Christian Unity, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Francis will address the group at the opening of the summit Thursday, Lombardi said.

Speaking at the U.N. on Monday, Parolin critiqued some responses to terrorist attacks, saying "at times, unilateral solutions have been favored over those grounded in international law."

"The methods adopted, likewise," he continued, "have not always respected the established order or particular cultural circumstances of peoples who often found themselves unwillingly at the center of this new form of global conflict."

"These mistakes, and the fact that they were at least tacitly approved, should lead us to a serious and profound examination of conscience," Parolin continued. "The challenges that these new forms of terrorism pose should not make us succumb to exaggerated views and cultural extrapolations."

"The reductionism of interpreting situations in terms of a clash of civilizations, playing on existing fears and prejudices, only leads to reactions of a xenophobic nature that, paradoxically, then serve to reinforce the very sentiments at the heart of terrorism itself," he continued.

"The challenges we face ought to spur a renewed call for religious and intercultural dialogue and for new developments in international law, to promote just and courageous peace initiatives."

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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