||Home > Synod > 2010-10-16 11:18:07
Intervention of Mons. Issam John DARWICH, Bishop of Saint Michael's of Sydney of the Greek-Melkites (AUSTRALIA)
This intervention has two parts:
In the first part, I will talk about my Church in Australia and in the second about my Church in the Arab countries.
I thank His Holiness who expressed his paternal care for the whole Church through our call to this Assembly at this time in Rome, the Eternal City of Saints Peter and Paul.
We have to recognize with great respect that the Latin Church in Australia and New Zealand, especially the Catholic Episcopal Conferences, played a vital role in keeping our Eastern Catholic heritage and traditions.
Our most fraternal communications are with the Christian Orthodox who come from Egypt, Sudan and the Middle East. We also have good relations with the Coptic Orthodox from Egypt and Sudan and other non-Calcidian communities in the East, such as the Syrians and the Assyrians, as we also find many common factors such as language, culture and traditions.
Our Dioceses participate in a dialogue with many Muslim communities in Australia, and one of the most important activities was establishing a “Muslim and Christian Friendship Association of Australia”, which worked to strengthen the positive relations between the two religions and decreased the tensions between them through conferences, mutual visits and common activities, and contributed to solve disagreements between the Muslims and the Australian communities in the years after the tragic events of September 11 2001.
We as Eastern Catholics and as brothers with Orthodox Churches especially the Church of Antioch, hope the Roman Catholic Church will give us a larger role in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers on the local and international levels. And this will guide us to greater closeness with our two Churches of Antioch and this in itself will be a great witness that we can give to our Arab, Muslim and Christian societies.
We also hope that the Eastern Catholic Churches will overcome the obstacles that face them in their Apostolic and Pastoral mission and allow Christ’s face to shine forth.
The main problems:1. We see intolerance increasing daily among the Eastern Catholic Churches especially in the clergy’s spirits and those who are working in the Church administrations.
This intolerance sows suspicion and affects clearly the lay people’s attitudes and lives. To be healed of this we need to make a clear plan which can be realized to educate the clergy and the lay persons with clear programs and so the Eastern Catholics will fulfill the reality of the one universal church. It is sad that not every Catholic listens to the words of Pope Benedict XV: “The Church of Jesus Christ is not Latin nor Greek nor Slav, but Catholic. And so she does not distinguish between her faithful, Greek, Latin or Slav or other nationalities; all are perceived as equal by the Holy See”.
2. Communication among the Eastern Catholic Churches is still superficial and there is very little collaboration especially on social and apostolic projects; for example, the sad situation in Lebanon where every Church seems to be interested achieving political benefits for themselves and more than the other Churches, while they should be seeking to benefit all Christians. This surely shows our weakness and divisions.
3. We, who have been asked to be pastors of souls, seem to waste a lot of time on political issues. This should be the role of lay people while we, the consecrated, have to show more interest in the proclamation of the Word of God and the Gospel of Salvation and have to devote all our energies to offering the spiritual and educational bread for our people. Our Eastern Catholic people, who are committed in faith in the Middle East and who are faithful to mutual respect and fraternal cohabitation offer, finally, a very large and valuable contribution to support the Arab and Muslim world.
[00108-02.06] [IN083] [Original text: Arabic]