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Intervention of Mons. Cyril VASIL', Titular Archbishop of Ptolemais in Libya, Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches (VATICAN CITY)
In agreement with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches His Eminence Leonardo Sandri, I would like to present to this assembly a number of considerations about some aspects of the life of the Churches in the Middle East from that special observatory that is our Congregation. The Holy Father Benedict XVI in his historic visit for the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation’s seat on 9 June 2007 pointed out some topics that should be focused on because of their importance and urgency: synodality, formation, migrations and ecumenism.
Synodality has to do in a special way with the mechanism of the choice of candidates to the episcopacy. Checks on the suitability of the candidates should be carried out by the bishops and the Synod in a more appropriate manner than sometimes happens at present, in order to facilitate and speed up the process of Pontifical assent.
In the first place we have to constantly evaluate the current state of the formative and academic institutions for the level of cultural and spiritual formation that they offer. The difficulties that students encounter in their higher studies outside of the Eastern context, for example, in Rome, cannot be ignored and there is no point hiding them. We have to ask ourselves if the time has finally come to open a first cycle of Eastern theological studies here in Rome, in an Eastern theological faculty?
The phenomenon of migrations
Our Congregation is working towards the organization of Eastern ecclesiastical districts outside of their traditional territories. As regards the faithful who move from the Middle East, sometimes the “planetary” extension of the Patriarchs’ jurisdiction is claimed - as if this were a right and a universal solution to the problem of the pastoral for migrants. It should be remembered that between the claimed universal right and the detailed, justified request there is a great difference.
Vatican Council II reminds Easterners of that specific mission they have been entrusted with [...]of promoting the unity of all Christians, especially the Eastern ones... with... scrupulous fidelity to the ancient oriental traditions.
So as not to get stuck at the simpler and more visible questions, such as the style of clerical dress, we have to aspire to a greater knowledge and the observing of the more theological and pastoral elements. What is the situation in our Churches in the joint administration of all three of the sacraments of Christian initiation, Eucharistic communion to children, baptism by immersion - to mention just a few of the aspects requested by current canon law and by the abovementioned Instruction of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches for the application of the liturgical prescriptions of the CCEO?
[00174-02.02] [IN114] [Original text: Italian]