Pope announces Mideast synod


Pope Benedict today announced he would hold a special meeting next year of Roman Catholic bishops to discuss the concerns and challenges of the Church in the Middle East.

Benedict told visiting Middle Eastern bishops at his summer residence south of the Rome that the two-week synod would take place in October 2010.

For years the Catholic Church has expressed concern about the fate of Christians in the Middle East. Many have left the region in the wake of wars and what the Church says is persecution or inequality in some predominantly Muslim countries.

Among the topics the synod is expected to discuss are Islamic fundamentalism and Christian-Muslim dialogue.