Pope calls special synod on Middle East

Rome, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI announced Saturday a special synod of bishops to discuss the increasingly difficult situation of Catholics in the Middle East. The synod will take place on October 10-24, the pontiff said after a meeting with seven Catholic patriarchs from the region at his summer residence of Castle Gandolfo.

The Iraqi Bishop of Kirkuk, Louis Sako, had requested such an emergency summit from the pope in January.

According to Radio Vatican, the plight of Catholics in the region has become increasingly precarious, with hundreds of thousands emigrating.

Benedict made a trip to the Middle East in May, visiting Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.