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Intervention of Mons. Simon ATALLAH, Bishop of Baalbek - Deir El-Ahmar of the Maronites (LEBANON)

The question of Christian unity, this testament of our Lord Jesus Christ has evolved greatly throughout the centuries. In fact, Church unity has endured many crises, doctrinal ones, ecclesiological ones, with political interference and human considerations.
The 20th century was, on the other hand and happily so, the century of ecumenism par excellence. In fact, the great pastors of the Churches, Pope John XXIII and the Patriarch Athenagoras met and the obstacles were overcome. The gestures of love, of peace and of fraternity erased all the hatreds of the past centuries. Excommunications on either side were revoked. Vatican II and the Movements, such as the Work of Mary for Christian Unity, also known as Focolari, and others have played an important role in the positive evolution of the movement of unity, wanted by the Lord.

Will the 21st century, solemnly inaugurated by John Paul II, celebrating in the year 2000 the Jubilee of the Redemption of Humankind, continue the joyous ecumenical experiences of the 20th century or will it return into the obscure labyrinths of the 19th century or before that the 11th and 16th centuries?
The prayer for Christian unity should reflect a mentality and a vision. These last two should produce concrete ecumenical actions such as:
1. Going back to the needs of our vocation, which would allow us to free ourselves of all the complexes of feeling like a minority, and, as a result of this, of fear. In fact, because of our vocation, we cannot succumb to the temptation of feeling like a minority. In our Middle Eastern surroundings, we Christians, cannot speak about minority and majority. Christ did not tell we are a minority. He said to us: you are the leaven in the bread. From this perspective, we Christians, with Christ, are a majority.
2. The commitment to give an education of ecumenical culture to all our faithful, especially to our young people, in the parishes, in the novitiates of the institutes of monastic life, in the universities and the centers of Christian formation, etc.
Conclusion: this education in ecumenism throws the door wide open to inter-religious dialogue, to projects which when achieved would build peace between peoples.

[00177-02.01] [IN117] [Original text: French]


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