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To mark the start of Lent 2012, there is a departure from the usual style of my podcast regional analysis of the Middle East and North Africa for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW).
I have been asked instead to reflect on the Christian realities of the lands of Christ's birth, ministry, death and Resurrection in the light of a season of self-examination - and I am, of course, delighted to do so.
So in this latest edition of the podcast, also made regularly available on Ekklesia, we look at what it means to live out faith against a backdrop of violence, uncertainty and suffering.
"Time and time again, the Christian communities in the Middle East North Africa region are re-baptised in their faith. Whilst it is very difficult in the midst of all the tension and violence to reflect on the Lenten period, the fact that they are rooted in their faith offers them support and helps them to remember what Jesus himself went through - the temptations, the challenges.
"Ultimately, in a region that is riven with violence at the moment, we should not forget that Jesus was Crucified - He died on the cross - but was Resurrected and that, for me, is where hope always springs eternal in the Christian heart."
* The full podcast can be listened to, and downloaded, here: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/mena-lent-2012
* For detailed geopolitical analysis, see my latest paper, 'Where is the Middle East and North Africa region today?' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16307
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK) and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.netTweet