VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch sent a letter to participants in the Synod of Bishop, at the conclusion of the assembly. Below is a translation of the letter.
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Dear Brothers in the Lord!
It has been a great pleasure for me to meet with you, my brothers, in this Synod, to know you, to collaborate with you, to dialogue, to hear news of the different local Churches, in a word, to exchange points of view with you.
We Orientals are a particular group in the Synod, as you no doubt noted from our different dress and head wear, but also in our way of thinking and in our specific concerns. You must also have noted that we have a certain particular position in the context of the universal Church, as regards the concept of Church, ecclesiology, ecumenism, and relations between East and West.
My position is in line with that of my predecessors. In this context, I would particularly like to name my predecessor of blessed memory, Maximos IV Saegh. He was one of the greatest men at Vatican Council II who smoothed the way so that Latin Christians could also pray in their mother tongues. He was also the one who proposed the creation of Episcopal Conferences and promoted the idea of the Synod of Bishops during the Council, which has contributed decisively to the beginning of decentralization.
My predecessor of blessed memory, Gregory II, was also one of the great men at Vatican Council I. Both always spoke on behalf of the great absent one, the Orthodox Church. It is like this today, too. We Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops, particularly those of the Byzantine rite, have tenaciously and consistently preserved the great legacy of Orthodoxy and its meaning in the heart of the Latin Church.
It is with great pleasure that I see that you, too, have discovered these aspects. I think, however, that the Synod might only be the beginning. It is because of this that I place the accent on the Greek word synodos at the beginning of the letter: syn-odos, the way to go together in the Third Millennium.
The reason why I wish to have contacts with you is, above all, because we are brothers in the Lord. We are in community with you as pastors of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, whether of Eastern or Western tradition.
In the second place, I also wish to give you some theological and ecclesiological input, perhaps in the form of documents of the local Church, to further the intra-ecclesial dialogue, an imperative today.
Third, we are always keen to have you inform us about the faithful of our emigrant Church, who perhaps are in your diocese, so that we can take pastoral measures to maintain their Eastern tradition or bring them back to it. With this kind of help from you, perhaps we can send a priest for these faithful, who for the time being would naturally be under your jurisdiction. In this context and for the future, one could also think of the eventual constitution of a pastoral unity of the Eastern Churches or — if circumstances call for it — the creation of an exarchy or even of an eparchy, as has happened in some countries.
Lastly, I wish to assure you that my best wishes go with you, and that I always remember you in my prayer. May this be the beginning or reinforcement of continual contacts for many years, “eis polla eta!”
In this spirit I also wish to give you the various addresses of our different houses and institutions in the East, where you are always welcome, alone or with a group, privately or as a pilgrim.
Wherever possible, we readily offer you hospitality. But even if we do not have the possibility to offer you hospitality, we will try to organize something. We will willingly make the effort so that a trip to the roots of Christianity will be possible for you.
The Holy Father has said that the Church must breathe again with two lungs; from here stems the meaning and importance of our mission, we who are in full communion with the Church of Rome, but who at the same time have remained and remain faithful to the East and to Orthodoxy.
The Holy Father once coined a beautiful expression, that the words of the West have need of the words of the East, so that the world will be able to receive the Word of God. The West must take a step toward the East, because it is said: “ex Oriente lux” (light from the East).
Our mission consists in contributing more maturity and thus smoothing the way to full unity slowly and patiently, but also with perseverance, so that “we will all be united, […] so that the world will believe” (John 17:21) and I wish to add: so that the world will have hope.
Here is the list of our addresses:
P.O. Box 14130
Daher Street 16
Tel: 0020-(0)2-5904697 / 5905790
Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchate
P.O. Box 22249
Tel: 00963-11-5433129 / 5433130 / 5433131
Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchate
P.O. Box 70071 Antelias
Tel: 00961-4-413111 / 417566
E-mail: [email protected]
[translation by ZENIT]