The Synod of the Bishops for the Middle East : The synod’s final propositions

Source: FSSPX News

The first Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, held at the Vatican from October 10-24, was a meeting of representatives from the seven Eastern Catholic Churches on the topic: The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul(Acts 4:32).

The synod’s final propositions

In these forty-four final propositions, organized according to 3 themes – the Christians’ presence in the Middle East, communion between Churches, and Christian testimony – the patriarchs and bishops also revisit questions on marriage for priests, the “wound” of emigration, interreligious dialogue, ecumenism, and the liturgy.

Recalling that “attachment to one’s native land” is “essential” for the identity of Christians, the patriarchs and bishops exhorted their faithful and the “Church communities” “to not yield to the temptation to sell their properties.” Anxious to help Christians who find themselves in “difficult financial situations (…) to keep their land or purchase new land”, the Synod Fathers offer “to create economic projects” allowing “land owners to remain respectably in their homes and try to regain those (goods) that are lost and/or confiscated.” “In the same way,” they remind their faithful, “the property and goods of the Church and its institutions must be preserved.” – Why do these Christians flee from their respective homelands, if as the Shiite Iranian ayatollah declared, there are “no problems, no difficulties in the relations between islam and Christianity in any Muslim country”? (NDLR)

The issue of married Eastern Catholic priests is also the subject of a proposition. Although “priestly celibacy is esteemed and appreciated in the East as well as in the West,” the prelates request nevertheless, in the interest of the faithful, “that the possibility of having married priests outside of the patriarchal territory” of the Eastern Churches “be studied.” On the same day as these propositions were published, Bishop Cyrille Salim Bustros invoked the example of the members of the Anglican clergy, already married, who can henceforward reenter the Catholic Church by virtue of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus published in November 2009. Given the “new situation set up in the West” by this pontifical document out of a desire for “equality” with the Anglicans, the prelate asked that “the present guidelines of the Holy See in this matter, which impose celibacy on the Eastern priests accomplishing their pastoral mission outside of their territory,” be modified.

In a passage entitled “Sharing the Cross”, the Synod Fathers try to “draw the attention of the rest of world to the dramatic situation of some Christian communities in the Middle East suffering all kinds of difficulties, sometimes even going as far as martyrdom.” And they ask “the national and international powers to make a special effort to bring this tense situation to an end, by restoring justice and peace.” As in the final message of the Synod, they ask them to incite “the civil authorities responsible to apply the United Nations’ resolutions concerning the region, and in particular as regards the refugees’ return and the status of Jerusalem and of the Holy Places.”

The proposition regarding ecumenism requests “that the date of Christmas and Easter be made to correspond” for Catholics and orthodox, and expresses the wish to “institute a common annual feast for the martyrs of the Eastern Churches.”

Dialogue between Christians of the Middle East and “their fellow citizens of other religions” constitutes one of the recurrent themes of these propositions that invite their faithful to “purify their memory, mutually forgive the past, and work to build a better common future.” The patriarchs and bishops desire that “in daily life”, the faithful of the three monotheistic religions strive to attain a “mutual acceptance of each other despite their differences” and that they form “a new society where religious pluralism is respected and where fanaticism and extremism will be excluded.” Concerning Judaism, “initiatives for dialogue and cooperation with the Jews must be encouraged,” and notably “the reading of the Old Testament and a deeper knowledge of Jewish traditions.” “We reject anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism,” state the prelates, distinguishing between “religion and politics.”

As regards dialogue with Islam, the Synod Fathers judge it “important to promote the notion of citizenship, the dignity of the human person, equal rights and duties, and religious liberty, including liberty to worship and liberty of conscience.” In order to give “the world the image of a positive coming-together and a fruitful collaboration,” Christians and Muslims must “discover their respective religious values” and oppose “together every kind of fundamentalism and violence practiced in the name of religion.”

(Sources: apic/imedia/kna/VIS – DICI issue number 224, October 30th, 2010)

Special Synod of the Bishops for the Middle East :

An ayatollah at the Synod
Presentation of the Synod
Opening of the Synod
Report from Rabbi David Rosen
Intervention of the Shiite ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad
A Lebanese bishop vigorously denounces the Koran
The final message of the Synod Fathers
The close of the Synod