"Living responsibly as Christians today means having the guts to meet the challenges head on" — His Holiness
LOS ANGELES–Before an audience of over 350 people–His Holiness delivered a major address Friday–October 14 at the World Affairs Council of Los Angeles in the Biltmore Hotel regarding Christianity in the Middle East and challenges facing inter-religious dialogue. In addition to the large number of prominent leaders from throughout Los Angeles–Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich as well as the consul generals of Armenia–Lebanon–and Turkey also attended the event.
During the speech–His Holiness discussed the historic context of Christianity in the Middle East and the challenges confronting the faith in the region today. "We must reorganize and revitalize our communities by discerning the emerging realities," said His Holiness. "We must integrate with the broader community. Integration is key–not assimilation–articulated by participation–constantly endeavoring to be part of the total society." His Holiness went on to discuss how Lebanon should be viewed as a model of how cultures and religions can coexist in the Middle East and said "living together as a community is based on living with common values." He also addressed issues of family values and education.
The final part of the speech dealt with the issue of how peace can only be achieved with justice and reconciliation. "Reconciliation must be based on human rights–justice and accepting the truth," said His Holiness. "We must destroy the walls within us which is much more difficult than the physical walls." The Pontiff also said that the major political issues in society must also be on the agenda of all churches–emphasizing the role churches must play in addressing the issues of the Middle East region.
Later that evening–His Holiness attended a special performance at Glendale Presbyterian Church by the Lark Choir–conducted by Vatsche Barsoumian–in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Antelias Seminary.