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Intervention of Archmandrite Robert L. STERN, General Secretary of the "Catholic Near East Welfare Association" (C.N.E.W.A.) (USA)


“Church” has many meanings. The Church's mystery can be described using “models”, none of which is adequate to describe it. We use “models”, whether conscious of it or not. The early church saw unity in terms of “pax et communio”. The church is held together by the Holy Spirit and personal bonds among its members, nurtured by communication. This model is echoed in the internet. The church as a “communio” is a personal communication network in the Spirit. Models affect decisions: The limitation of the jurisdiction of Eastern heads of churches “outside” their homelands presumes a geographic model; if a personal network, this is not appropriate. In the model of network, many churches in the same territory is normal, and rivalries and attempts to proselytize or dominate are inappropriate. Canon law favors a geographic notion of church; although people live“in” a parish, in urban settings they choose their own. Emigration is similar: from the geographic view, we see traditional Christian populations diminish, but in the personal perspective we celebrate Christians wherever they choose to be. “Communio” grows with increasing and deeper personal communication, as do interreligious relations.

[00047-02.02] [IN025] [Original text: English]



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