Home > Synod > 2010-10-12 17:56:51
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Intervention of Mons. Kyrillos WILLIAM, Bishop of Assiut, Lycopolis of the Copts (EGYPT)


The liturgy, according to the Instrumentum Laboris, is a deeply rooted feature of Eastern culture, thus one cannot lessen its strength in order to preserve the intensity of the faith today. History asserts that in our Middle Eastern countries, the liturgy has always been a school for education in the faith and Christian morality, especially when one considers our population, simple and for the most part illiterate, thanks to numerous biblical readings (six daily readings in our Coptic liturgy, even more on feast days and on certain celebrations) and to prayers composed of juxtaposed biblical quotations.
For this reason we must maintain it with reverence according to the text of Eastern canons law (cfr canon 39 of CCEO).
In the Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph four, Vatican II affirms the equality of all rites with regard to rights and dignity. In the conciliar decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Council fathers affirm a special regard for the patrimony of Eastern churches, and emphasize their kind deeds towards the Universal Church, quoting Leo XIII’s apostolic letter of November 30, 1894, “Orientalium Ecclesiarum”.
The Conciliar Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches likewise urges all Westerners who are in contact with these Churches, to apply themselves in learning and respecting Eastern liturgies... and it refers to the Motu Proprio “Orientis Catholici” of Benedict XV of October 15, 1917 and Pius XI’s Encyclical of September 8, 1926, “Rerum Orientalium”.
Canon 41 of the CCEO confirms this and requires them to know these liturgies precisely and to practice them.
Now, we can see that quite a few Latin religious persons translate the Latin liturgy into Arabic and they celebrate it for our Eastern faithful helping them thus to separate from their churches and to weaken their belonging to them.
With regards to the liturgical language (Instrumentum Laboris 72), we did not wait for Vatican II to translate our liturgical texts into the current language of our people. Since its origins, our Coptic liturgy was celebrated in the different dialects in Upper Egypt, and in the larger cities in Greek, the language of culture and of daily life. Since the beginning of the tenth century, we an find everything in Arabic. One factor which has helped to preserve the faith, and if we compare with other neighboring countries such as North Africa, we observe that several centuries later, Christianity, which flourished at the outset, has vanished; because a foreign liturgy in a little-known language had been imposed upon them.
I have an explanation to ask for and a wish to hope for: In a country such as ours, Egypt, where all (Catholics, non-Catholics and even non-Christians) are Copts, what is the purpose of the Latin liturgy in Arabic? If there are Latins, it is their right to celebrate the Latin Mass, but in a language other than Arabic, because this attracts our faithful and helps in their dispersal.

[00026-02.03] [IN004] [Original text: French]



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