by Fady Noun
The biennial meeting of the prelates of the Eastern Churches concluded yesterday in Bkerke, Lebanon. It started last November 14. The bishopsâ€™ commitment to pursue the path of ecumenism between Catholics and Orthodox reuniting the dates of Easter. The invitation to all Catholics to engage in politics and participate in society bringing their Christian values, the only way to bring peace to the Middle East.
Beirut (AsiaNews) â€“ The Eastern Catholic Patriarchs are asking Christians to remain in their homeland and to engage in politics to be messengers of peace. This is what emerges from the 20th assembly of the prelates of the Eastern Churches held November 14 to 17 in Bkerke, the seat of the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon. At the meeting, the bishops launched a series of resolutions on the situation which define the future of Christians in the Middle East. They are determined to move forward on the path of ecumenism, seeking practical solutions such as the common date of Easter which until now was celebrated at different times by Catholics and Orthodox.
The patriarchs of the Mashreq have also urged Christians to engage in public life and to cooperate with the moderate forces, rejecting violence as a means of political change.
Below we present the text of the resolutions, read by Msgr. Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronites..
In order to implement the resolutions of the Special Synod of Bishops, meeting in Rome in October 2010, and in light of what is happening in our respective countries, the Patriarchs have decided as follows:
Regarding the current situation in Arab countries and its impact on the Christians, the fathers:
1 â€“ Invite all Christians to remain rooted to the land and holy sites of their respective homelands, having confidence in the future and the tasks assigned to them in their respective countries, where they are intended to be light, salt and yeast. We remember that they must build their own land so that all citizens enjoy equal rights, including the right to participate in politics, through solidarity with other social and religious components, within the state institutions.
2 â€“ Call all the churches to coordinate their pastoral work, in obedience to Christâ€™s prayer â€œthat they may be one.â€ Not to mention that this working together is the essential prerequisite of Christian witness and life with other citizens.
3 â€“ Agree to unify the dates of Easter between churches, and find practical means to achieve this pressing request for all Christians, especially in our Mashreq, as in the case of Egypt, Jordan and Palestine.
4 â€“ Stress the importance of national dialogue, respect for human rights, national reconciliation, the need for social and political reforms in order to achieve civil peace and justice and condemn the use of violence as a means of change.
5 â€“ Encourage the laity to become actively involved in national institutions and at the service of human rights.
6 â€“ Affirm their commitment to maintain contacts with moderate forces in our society, in order to broaden the base of national participation and to demonstrate that religion is a path to God and true peace; state their desire to build ties with their compatriots as inhabitants of the land itself and brothers in a common future.
7 â€“ Call for a solution to the Israeli â€“ Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just and shared solution in accordance with the resolutions of international law, in particular as regards the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland and their right to have their own State alongside the State of Israel within secure and recognized borders. The Holy Land that place where peace which was announced around the world on the day of Christâ€™s birth, has the right to enjoy the peace, so that from it peace may flow like a river and flood all the other countries of the Middle East.
Administratively, the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs have supported the idea of holding a general congress of lay Christians; have approved the statutes of a committee on prisons in the Middle East; have decided to organize a Middle East conference of Catholic educators in Lebanon (12-17 April 2012). They have decided to follow the resolutions of the Synod held in Rome in October 2010, and encourage all media to the mission of the Church, including the new Charity TV channel, aimed at young people.
The Eastern patriarchs who are present at Bkerke: Mgr. Bechara RAI Maronite Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Coptic Catholic, Gregory III, Greek-Catholic, Ignace Joseph III Younan, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean Archbishop Emmanuel III Delly, Cardinal Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem as well as Bishop John Tayrouz, representing the Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX. Also present at the conference, Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, in Lebanon at the invitation of the local Caritas. In the coming days in Bkerke a new conference will open that will last a week. It will bring together the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and their bishops.