SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, announced that due to escalating uncertainty brought about by the civil war in Syria and at the request of local hosts, it has no alternative but to cancel the SIGNIS World Congress 2013 that was scheduled for Beirut, Lebanon, October 20-23, 2013.
SIGNIS said it has taken this decision with the greatest reluctance and after prolonged consideration and discussions with its partners in Lebanon.
“We know that this decision will come as a huge disappointment to so many people who have worked hard to realise the dream of a Congress in the Middle East,” stated SIGNIS President Augy Loorthusamy.
“Although we have had to relinquish our aspiration of holding the Congress in Beirut in October 2013, we remain in deep solidarity with our members in the Middle East. We continue to offer our prayerful support to all Christians in the Middle East and their right to exist as Christians in this region,” he added.
SIGNIS added that despite the fact that parts of the region are torn by war and civil strife, it is an area also teeming with courageous and creative initiatives for dialogue, reconciliation and peace building. Though at times, the forces of violence and war seem to be overwhelming, the vast majority of people desire and hope for peace, SIGNIS said.
Many young people are challenging the status quo and creating images for a new culture of peace. Beirut is at the heart of many of these young dreams, and the choice of Beirut as the venue for the World Congress was in solidarity with these young voices and alternative images of peace.
“We remain hopeful that one-day we will be able to recognize fully these courageous voices of peace by holding a SIGNIS World Congress in Beirut,” concluded Loorthusamy.