Pontiff: Synod to Renew Communion in the Mideast

Stresses Need for Catholic Witness in Holy Land

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is underlining the hope that the synod of bishops, which began today, will renew the communion of the Catholic Church in the Middle East.

The Pope stated this today during a Mass for the inauguration of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place through Oct. 24. The theme of the synod is: «The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. ‘Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul’ (Acts 4:32).»

The Pontiff concelebrated the Eucharistic celebration this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica at the tomb of the Apostle Peter with 177 Synodal Fathers, including 19 cardinals, 9 patriarchs, 72 archbishops, 67 bishops and 10 priests. Some 69 collaborators also participated.

During the homily the Holy Father noted that the synod’s working document points out that «under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it wishes to re-enliven communion of the Catholic Church in the Middle East.»

He added that this communion will take place «first of all within each Church, between all its members: patriarch, bishop, priests, religious persons, persons of consecrated life and the laity,» and «thereby in the relationships with the other Churches.»

«Ecclesial life, corroborated in this way, will see the development of very positive fruits in the ecumenical path with the other Churches and ecclesial communities present in the Middle East,» Benedict XVI affirmed.

He observed that «this occasion is also propitious to constructively continue the dialogue with Jews, to whom we are tied by an indissoluble bond, the lengthy history of the covenant, as we are with the Muslims.»

The Pope added that «the workings of the synodal assembly are oriented to the witness of Christians on a personal, family and social level.»

He explained, «This requires the reinforcing of their Christian identity through the Word of God and the sacraments.»


«We all hope that the faithful feel the joy in living in the Holy Land, a land blessed by the presence and by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ,» the Pontiff said.

«Over the centuries those places attracted multitudes of pilgrims and even men and women in religious communities, who have considered it a great privilege to be able to live and bear witness in the land of Jesus,» he affirmed.

«Despite the difficulties,» the Holy Father said, «the Christians in the Holy Land are called to enliven their consciousness of being the living stones of the Church in the Middle East, at the holy places of our salvation.»

He noted that God sees the Middle East «from a different perspective, one might say, ‘from on high:’ it is the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the land of the Exodus and the return from exile; the land of the temple and of the prophets, the land in which the Only Begotten Son of Mary was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead; the cradle of the Church, established in order to carry Christ’s Gospel to the ends of the earth.»

«Looking at that part of the world from God’s perspective means recognizing in it the ‘cradle’ of a universal design of salvation in love, a mystery of communion which becomes true in freedom and thus asks man for a response,» he added.

Benedict XVI stated, «The Church was established to be a sign and an instrument of the unique and universal saving project of God among men; it fulfills this mission simply by being itself, that is, ‘communion and witness,’ as it says in the theme of this synodal assembly which opens today.»

He continued: «Without communion there can be no witness: The life of communion is truly the great witness.»

«This communion is the same life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ,» the Pope stated. «It is thus a gift, not something which we ourselves must build through our own efforts.»

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Full text: http://zenit.org/article-30593?l=english

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