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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-16 11:18:24
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Intervention of Mons. Paul Nabil EL-SAYAH, Archbishop of Haifa and Holy Land of the Maronites, Patriarchal Exarch of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Maronites (ISRAEL)

The ecumenical question in the Middle East in general, and in the Holy Land in particular, has become one of the most important challenges for the Church from the grass roots up. We have 13 mainline Churches in Jerusalem and their traditions and memories are more hardened than anywhere else in the world, and their physical and psychological boundaries are very clearly drawn . The scandal of our divisions is often broadcast live worldwide, especially when conflicts flair up in the Holy Sepulcher on Good Friday or in the Church of the Nativity on Christmas morning, while the international media is watching.
1) Our identity as Christians will always be lacking unless we earnestly strive to bring forward the ecumenical agenda.
2) Communion within each of our Churches and among them is a prerequisite for meeting our sister Churches and other Christian communities and cultivating and authentic ecumenical spirit.
3) Witness cannot be authentically carried out without our Churches being together and working together. Meeting the ecumenical challenge is not for us an option but an absolute necessity.
In conclusion I have three suggestions:
1) I wish to urge our Churches to take the necessary steps to save the Middle East Council of Churches as it seems to be on the verge of collapse. It is the only umbrella under which all our Churches come together. This will be a great loss for the ecumenical cause.
2) Give the ecumenical agenda greater importance at the local level according to the circumstances of each and every diocese, parish or community.
3) Institutions and organizations are important but unless we cultivate the ecumenical spirit in and among our people, as described above, institutions and organizations will remain totally dead. Ecumenical formation is a must at all levels and particularly in the seminaries and houses of formation.
Finally I am fully convinced that attempting to meet the ecumenical challenge will be one of the yardsticks with which the success and failure of this synod will be measured . Being together and working together as Churches is a vital condition for an effective Christian presence in the Holy Land and in the Middle East at large.

[00103-02.02] [IN079] [Original text: English]


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