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Intervention of Mons. William Hanna SHOMALI, Titular Bishop of Lydda, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem of the Latins (JERUSALEM)



The Church breathes with two lungs, John Paul II wrote: the Eastern and the Latin Catholic Churches. These two traditions met in a joyful way in the East.
The Latin Church of the East is not Western, even it includes many westerners. An Arabic Christian who belongs to this Church feels 100% Eastern and 100% of Latin Rite.
Most of the liturgical books on the Latin Liturgy have been translated into Arabic.
The liturgical songs went from the phase of imitation to the phase of creativity. In the first phase, our ancestors borrowed from Gregorian chant, from the repertoires of European chants and the Syrian Maronite liturgy. In the second phase we became creative. Our musicians, knowing the genius of the Latin liturgy with regards to precision, concision and clarity, composed valuable chants. They even mixed the Gregorian tradition with Eastern music, for example, in the chanting of the psalms.
Throughout Latin liturgy, our faithful feel bound to the great Church that uses this rite on a world scale. When they travel or emigrate, they find it easy to insert themselves in the country and in the welcoming parishes. And, the pilgrims that visit the Holy Land and participate in our Sunday liturgy recognize their own liturgy in it and find it easy and joyful to participate in.
This liturgy is for us a place, par excellence, for catechesis and sanctification. During the recent periods, we rejoiced over the beatification of two Palestinian religious women: a Carmelite and the founder of the Sisters of the Rosary.
Despite what has been achieved in liturgical matters, there is a need for a long and thoughtful inculturation especially as regards the sacrament of marriage and the rites of baptism and funerals. This inculturation must respect the Latin geni and the Eastern culture.
We truly hope for the unification of the Easter holiday with the Orthodox Churches. This implies also the unification of the period of Lent and, why not, also the way of living abstinence and fasting. Just as fasting is a respected aspect of Islam and Judaism, we hope that Catholics of the Eastern and Latin Rites unify their way of fasting. This would be a positive sign for Christians and also for non-Christians.
The mission of evangelization and sanctification requires liturgy. The Latin liturgy in the Middle East has a role to play in complete respect with the Eastern liturgies which are noteworthy also, with the catechization and sanctification of their faithful.

[00070-02.03] [IN047] [Original text: French]




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