October 12, 2010

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.




VATICAN CITY, 11 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Second General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops began at 4.30 p.m. today in the Synod Hall. During this session reports were presented from each of the five continents.

  The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and there were 163 Synod Fathers present.

  Extracts from the reports are given below:

AFRICA. CARDINAL POLYCARP PENGO, ARCHBISHOP OF DAR-ES-SALAAM, TANZANIA AND PRESIDENT OF THE SYMPOSIUM OF EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES OF AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR (SECAM). "The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar has an intrinsic link with the Church in the Middle East, specifically through the Church in Egypt which is part of both Africa and the Middle East. ... Christians are migrating from the Middle East due to what may be considered oppressive conditions against the Christian faith in some of the Middle East countries. ... Today, no Christian on the coasts of Eastern Africa feels obliged to hide his Christian identity despite the fact that Islam continues to be the religion of the majority. Separate Christian settlements are no longer needed.... Closer co‑operation between the sub‑Saharan Church and the Church in North Africa and the Middle East remains and will always remain of paramount importance for the survival of Christianity on both sides. SECAM is an excellent tool for such co‑operation".

NORTH AMERICA. CARDINAL ROGER MICHAEL MAHONY, ARCHBISHOP OF LOS ANGELES, U.S.A. "While acknowledging their union with Rome, inter-ecclesial relations should be encouraged, not only among the 'sui iuris' Churches in the Middle East but especially in the diaspora. Recognising the haemorrhaging of Christians from the Middle East to Europe, Australia, and the Americas, we have sought various ways to transform emigration into a new opportunity for support for these Christians as they become established throughout the diaspora. ... The biggest challenge we face with our immigrant peoples ‑ whether they be Middle Eastern Catholics or Vietnamese Catholics who have fled their country for Southern California, or Cubans who have fled Cuba for the Miami shores ‑ is not one of assisting them in living the mystery of 'communio' between and among various Christians and Christian Churches. The biggest challenge is to help them respond to the grace of giving witness to the Gospel by forgiving those enemies who quite often are the principal reason for their leaving their homeland to find peace and justice on our shores".

ASIA. ARCHBISHOP ORLANDO B. QUEVEDO O.M.I. OF COTABATO, PHILIPPINES AND SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES (FABC). "We are a 'little flock' in Asia, less than three percent of the more than three billion Asians. In the light of rising religious suspicions and extremism, sometimes erupting in violence and death, we can surely be afraid or timid. But we are fortified and encouraged by the words of the Lord, 'Fear not, little flock'. ... We will seriously address the great pastoral challenges before us in Asia, such as the phenomenon of migration which is sometimes called the new slavery, the negative impact of economic and cultural globalisation, the issue of climate change, religious extremism, injustice and violence; religious freedom, and biogenetic issues that threaten human life in the womb and from conception to natural death".

EUROPE. CARDINAL PETER ERDO, ARCHBISHOP OF ESZTERGOM-BUDAPEST, HUNGARY AND PRESIDENT OF THE "CONSILIUM CONFERENTIARUM EPISCOPORUM EUROPAE" (CCEE). "Europe is in debt to the Middle East. Not only do a multitude of the fundamental elements of our culture come from that region, but the first missionaries to our continent came from there too. ... When we consider the Middle East, we Europeans have to examine our consciences. Is the Gospel message still alive among us; that good news that we received from the Apostles? Or is that light and enthusiasm that stems from faith in Christ absent now from our lives? In our times, when Christian refugees and emigrants arrive in Europe from various Middle Eastern countries, what is our reaction? Do we pay enough attention to the reasons that force thousands if not millions of Christians to leave the land where their ancestors lived for almost two thousand years? Is it also true that our behaviour is responsible for what is happening? We are truly facing a great challenge. ... Do we know how to effectively express our support to the Christians of the Middle East? ... The Christians who come from the Middle East knock on the doors of our hearts and reawaken our Christian conscience".

OCEANIA. JOHN ATCHERLEY DEW, ARCHBISHOP OF WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND AND PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATION OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCES OF OCEANIA (FCBCO). "The two largest Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia are the Maronite and Melkite. ... As well as these Eastern Catholic Churches, there are also Chaldean, Syrian, Syro-Malabar and Coptic Catholic Churches. The Maronite, Melkite and Chaldean Eparchies extend into New Zealand, offering pastoral and liturgical services to their communities there too. The wider Middle East is present in Oceania through migrants and refugees who have made their home in the region: European Jews from the earliest days of Australia and New Zealand settlement, as well as refugees from Germany in the 1930s, and survivors of the Shoah; Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians; Iraqi, both Christian and Muslim; and in more recent years, Kurdish refugees from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Our historical links are strongly marked by war and peace. ... These links are cemented today through the presence of many pilgrims from Oceania who visit the Holy Land; through refugee resettlement; aid development programmes of Caritas International; the presence of international religious orders who are dedicated to educational work, or the support of the Holy Places".

LATIN AMERICA. RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS, ARCHBISHOP OF APARECIDA, BRAZIL AND PRESIDENT OF LATIN AMERICAN EPISCOPAL COUNCIL (CELAM). "In our Latin American and Caribbean countries, we have many Eastern immigrants - first and second generation - the majority being Christians. Many have become part of the Latin Church and there are small groups with their own eparchies. We would like them to grow more in the conscience of our common Catholic faith and come closer in a shared missionary action. At this time, we are developing in all our Churches what is called the 'Continental Mission', the fruit of the General Conference of Aparecido. It would be a splendid witness to be able to join this evangelising effort. ... We would like to share with you the concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this too we are in communion with the Holy Father in his effort to find a solution to the conflict".

  Following the reports from the continents, and before a period of free discussion at which the Pope was also present, a number of Synod Fathers spoke. Extracts from two of their speeches are given below.

ARCHBISHOP ELIAS CHACOUR OF AKKA OF THE GREEK-MELKITES, ISRAEL. " During the past twenty centuries our Christians from the Holy Land were alike condemned and privileged to share oppression, persecution and suffering with Christ. ... Being the archbishop of the largest Catholic Church in the Holy Land, the Melkite Catholic Church, I insistently invite you and plead with the Holy Father to give even more attention to the living stones of the Holy Land. ... We are in Galilee since immemorial times. Now we are in Israel. We want to stay where we are, we need your friendship more than your money".

ARCHBISHOP BOUTROS MARAYATI OF ALEPPO OF THE ARMENIANS, SYRIA. "If we want this Special Assembly to be fruitful, we should consider a special conference for each country, with an ecumenical aspect, where we can discuss the issues according to the local situations. Without any doubt, the challenges are the same, but every country has its own situation. For the past hundred years, emigration or violent deportation have continued to occur from the East. ... Are we waiting for the day where the world as a spectator amidst the indifference of the Western Churches will sit back and watch the 'Death of the Christians of the East?' Despite the crises and difficulties that face our Christian life and our ecumenical relations, we still 'believe, hoping against every hope'".



VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Third General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops began at 9 a.m. today in the Synod Hall in the presence of the Pope and 165 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon.

FR. DAVID NEUHAUS, S.J., HEAD OF PASTORAL CARE FOR HEBREW-SPEAKING CATHOLICS IN THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM OF THE LATINS. Hebrew is also a language of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. Hundreds of Israeli Catholics conduct all aspects of their life in Hebrew, inculturating their faith within a society that is defined by the Jewish tradition. ... [This is] a great challenge for the Hebrew-speaking vicariate today ... [which also] seeks ways to serve as a bridge between the Church, predominantly Arabic-speaking, and Jewish-Israeli society to promote both a teaching of respect for the people of the first covenant and a sensibility to the cry for justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Together, Arabic-speaking and Hebrew-speaking Catholics must give witness, and work in communion for the Church in the land of her birth".

ARCHBISHOP LOUIS SAKO OF KERKUK OF THE CHALDEANS, IRAQ. " The fatal exodus afflicting our Churches cannot be avoided, emigration is the biggest challenge which threatens our presence. The data is worrying. The Eastern Churches, and even the universal Church, must take on their responsibilities and, with the international community and local authorities, find common choices which respect the dignity of the human person. Choices which are based on equality and full citizenship, with efforts towards partnership and protection. The strength of a State must be based upon its credibility in the application of its laws at the service of its citizens, without discrimination between the majority and the minority. We want to live in peace and freedom rather than merely surviving".

ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH MOHSEN BECHARA OF ANTELIAS OF THE MARONITES, LEBANON. "Given that the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern countries are Muslim and therefore refuse secularism, it would be preferable, for our Synod, to use instead the term of citizenship or civic State. This is a term that is more acceptable and includes the same realities. ... But for the reality of citizenship to be admitted, generalised and integrated at the level of constitutions and above all mentalities, a dual task is required: At the societal level, the means of social communication can be of great assistance in anchoring the notions of what citizenship entails, above all the equality of all and the acceptance of religious and cultural diversity. At the educational level, ... citizenship can be nourished throughout the years in school. A work of purification is indispensable at the level of programmes to eliminate discrimination. This dual task is indispensable if we want to go beyond the level of the elites for whom citizenship, dialogue and even freedom are allowed, in order to be able to reach the masses who can be manipulated and turned towards any sort of extremism".

BISHOP SALIM SAYEGH, AUXILIARY OF JERUSALEM OF THE LATINS, PATRIARCHAL VICAR FOR JORDAN. "Among the problems facing the Church in the Middle East, we have to mention that of the sects, which causes great doctrinal confusion. ... What can be done to safeguard the treasury of the faith and to limit their growing influence? ... Priests and pastors of souls are pleaded with, insistently, to visit families and to assume their responsibility in explaining, defending, disseminating, living and helping to live the Catholic faith. Demonstrate serious concern for the Christian formation of adults. ... Sensitise Catholic schools to their Catholic mission. ... Have the courage to revise catechism texts so that they might clearly express the faith and doctrine of the Catholic Church".

ARCHBISHOP VINCENT LANDEL S.C.I. OF BETH, OF RABAT, MOROCCO AND PRESIDENT OF REGIONAL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF NORTH AFRICA (CERNA). "Our responsibility as a Church is to help Christians to accept the differences that separate them from their Muslim friends, ... to help them cultivate an attitude of humble trust towards people different from ourselves. ... Our responsibility as a Church is to help Christians who live temporarily in our lands to understand that they can live their Christian faith with joy and passion in a totally Muslim society. This will help them to return to their own countries with different ideas about Muslims, and so eliminate the prejudices that run the risk of ruining the world".

ARCHBISHOP PAUL YOUSSEF MATAR OF BEIRUT OF THE MARONITES, LEBANON. "The responsibility of the Western powers: They have committed injustices and historical errors in their encounter with the Middle East. They too should make amends by removing injustices, which whole peoples suffer especially the Palestinian people. The Christians of this region, who were unjustly identified with those powers, would benefit from these reparations thanks to their cohesion with their brothers. ... The responsibility of Christians in the West and in the rest of the world: They should show solidarity with their brothers and sisters of the Middle East, Christians in the West and in the rest of the world should know their Middle Eastern brothers and sisters better, show more solidarity to their causes. They should also exercise pressure on public opinion at home as well as on their governments to re-establish justice in their relationships with the Middle East and Islam, and help liberate the world from fundamentalism".



VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the newly-founded Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, explained the contents of "Ubicumque et semper", the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" by which Benedict XVI establishes the new dicastery.

  "The theme of new evangelisation has been the subject of deep reflection by Church Magisterium over recent decades", said Archbishop Fisichella. "It is immediately clear that this goal represents a challenge to the entire Church, which must ... find adequate ways to renew her announcement to many baptised people who no longer understand what it means to belong to the Christian community, and are victims of the subjectivism of our times with its closure in an individualism that often lacks public and social responsibility. The 'Motu Proprio' directly identifies those Churches of ancient tradition which ... require a renewed missionary spirit, one capable of helping them make a forward leap to meet the new requirements which the current historical situation imposes".

  "As 'Ubicumque et semper' makes clear, new evangelisation is not a mere formula, identical in all circumstances", the archbishop explained. "Rather, it obliges us to develop well-founded ideas capable of acting as support to a corresponding pastoral activity. Moreover it must be capable of carefully verifying the various traditions and goals that the Churches possess by virtue of the treasure of their centuries-long history: a plurality of forms that does not undermine unity".

  Nor must new evangelisation sound like "an abstract formula", the president of the new dicastery continued his remarks. "We must", he said, "fill it with theological and pastoral content, and we will do so with the strong support of the Magisterium of recent decades", also bearing in mind "the many initiatives which, over the course of recent years, have been enacted by individual bishops in their particular Churches, epsicopal conferences and groups of believers".

  Among the tasks entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation is that of promoting the use of the Catechism of the Universal Church. "The Catechism is indeed", the prelate noted, "one of the most mature fruits to emerge from the directives of Vatican Council II. It is an organic compilation of the entire heritage of the development of dogma and is the most complete instrument to transmit the unchanging faith in the face of the constant changes and questions the world poses to believers".

  Thus the new dicastery will use "all the inventions that progress in communications technology has created, making them positive instruments at the service of new evangelisation", Archbishop Fisichella concluded.



VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Given below are extracts of "Ubicumque et semper", the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" by which Benedict XVI establishes the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

  "The Church has the duty to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ always and everywhere. ... Over history this mission has assumed new forms and methods, depending on place, situation and historical moment. In our own time, one of its most singular characteristics has been that of having to measure itself against the phenomenon of abandonment of the faith, which has become progressively more evident in societies and cultures that were, for centuries, impregnated with the Gospel.

  "The social transformations we have seen over recent decades have complex causes, the roots of which are distant in time and have profoundly modified our perception of the world. ... If, on the one hand, humanity has seen undeniable benefits from these transformations and the Church received further stimuli to give reasons for the hope she carries, on the other, we have seen a worrying loss of the sense of the sacred, even going so far as to call into discussion apparently unquestionable foundations, such as faith in the God of creation and providence; the revelation of Jesus Christ our only Saviour, the shared understating of man's fundamental experiences like birth, death and family life, and the reference to natural moral law".

  "Among the central themes examined by Vatican Council II was the question of relations between the Church and the modern world. In the wake of this conciliar teaching, my predecessors dedicated further reflection to the need to find adequate forms to allow our contemporaries to still hear the Lord's living and eternal Word".

  "Venerable Servant of God John Paul II made this demanding undertaking one of the pivotal points of his vast Magisterium, summarising the task awaiting the Church today in the concept of 'new evangelisation' (which he systematically developed in numerous occasions), especially in regions of age-old Christianity".

  "Thus, in my turn, sharing the concern of my venerated predecessors, I feel it appropriate to offer an adequate response so that the entire Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, may present herself to the modern world with a missionary vigour capable of promoting a new evangelisation".

  "In Churches of ancient foundation, ... although the phenomenon of secularisation continues its course, Christian practice still shows signs of possessing vitality and profound roots among entire peoples. ... We also know, unfortunately, of areas which appear almost completely de-Christianised, areas in which the light of faith is entrusted to the witness of small communities. These lands, which need a renewed first announcement of the Gospel, seem particularly unreceptive to many aspects of the Christian message".

  "At the root of all evangelisation there is no human project of expansion, but the desire to share the priceless gift that God wished to give us, sharing His life with us".

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