The Synod on the Middle East began in Rome on Monday and there have already been a number of interesting interventions. Today the two Muslim observers addressed the Synod: a historic first.Both John Allen at NCR and Austen Ivereigh at America are reporting on the spot, with their accustomed insight and professionalism.Sandro Magister has a transcript of Pope Benedict's Meditation at the opening of the Synod. It begins:
Dear brothers and sisters, on October 11, 1962, forty-eight years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. Back then, October 11 was the feast of the Divine Maternity of Mary, and by this action, on this date, Pope John wanted to entrust the entire council to the motherly hands, to the motherly heart of the Virgin Mary. We are also beginning on October 11, and we also want to entrust this synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.Pius XI had introduced this feast in 1930, sixteen hundred years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated Mary's title of "Theotkos," "Dei Genitrix". In this great expression "Dei Genitrix," "Theotkos," the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine on Christ, on Mary, the entire doctrine of the redemption. And so it is worth it to reflect a little, for a moment, on the message of the Council of Ephesus, the message of this day.In reality, "Theotkos" is an audacious title. A woman is Mother of God. One might say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human person be Mother of God, of the Eternal, given that we are all in time, we are all creatures? So one realizes that there was strong opposition, in part, against this expression. The Nestorians said: one may speak of "Christotkos," yes, but of "Theotkos," no: "Thes," God, is beyond, above the events of history. But the Council decided this, and precisely in this way brought to light the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain within himself: he came out from himself, he united himself so much, so radically with this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and what we say about him we can always say about God as well. He was not born only as a man who had something to do with God, but in him God was born on earth. God came out from himself. But we can also say the opposite: God has drawn us into himself, so that we are no longer outside of God, but we are inside, inside God himself.