VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, presented the "Lineamenta" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. The synodal meeting is due to be held in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East. Communion and Witness. Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul".

The "Lineamenta" or draft guidelines on the theme of the Synod have been published in Italian, English, French and Arabic, and are made up of an introduction, three chapters and a conclusion. The text includes a general questionnaire concerning the topics covered, the answers to which (thirty-two in all) must be sent to the general secretariat of the Synod no later than Easter. A summary of the answers will then be compiled, and this will form the "Instrumentum laboris" or working document of the Synod, which the Pope will hand to representatives of the Eastern Catholic Churches during his apostolic trip to Cyprus scheduled for 4-6 June.

Archbishop Eterovic explained how the first chapter of today's document, "The Catholic Churches in the Middle East", briefly reviews the history of the Eastern Churches and presents the current challenges, including: "political conflicts in the region (Israel-Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon); ... and freedom of worship and of conscience, lamenting the considerable number of obstacles to exercising this fundamental right of individuals and of all religious communities".

"Ecclesial communion", the title of chapter two of the "Lineamenta", focuses on "the question of communion within the Catholic Church; that is, among the various Eastern Catholic Churches. ... Obviously, communion is also expressed in the relations between the bishops of the various Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as between them and the faithful", said the archbishop.

He then went on to explain how chapter three, "Christian witness", turns the spotlight on "the witness of Catholics within the Church herself, especially by means of catechesis and works, as well as outside the Church.

"Dialogue with other Churches and Christian communities exists", he added, "but it needs to be increased". The chapter also mentions Jewish-Christian dialogue "which exists in Palestine and in Israel thanks to various associations".

On the subject of relations with Muslims, the archbishop noted the document's focus on the "need to promote dialogue, also in order to know one another better, ... and as the best way to resolve problems".

The conclusion to the "Lineamenta" presents "the reasons - not so much political reasons as those of faith - why it is essential that Christians remain in the Middle East and continue to make their specific contribution for a more just, peaceful and prosperous society".

For his part Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, under secretary of the Synod of Bishops, explained that what we call the Holy Land "is not simply a geographical entity. ... That small space wedged between sea and desert was the stage for nearly two thousand years of history of the Jewish people, from the coming of Abraham to the Hasmonean dynasty of the second century BC and, subsequently, for the human history of the Son of God made man, and that of His disciples and Apostles".

He went on: "The Synod will concern itself with all the Middle East from Asia Minor to Iraq, and the Holy Land is a geographical part of that vast and heterogeneous area, a spiritually eminent part that is by no means historically inferior or insignificant for civilisation. There, and specifically in Jerusalem, the three monotheistic religions have vital roots and bonds, each in its own way".

"These vital bonds directly concern the original stages of each of the historical religions, yet we must ask whether belonging to this portion of the Middle East can foment an awareness of the authenticity and purity of faith and of religious practice. We must also ask", he concluded, "whether a shared land of origin and coexistence can favour reciprocity of recognition and respect, going so far as to have a positive influence on relations in the entire area of the Middle East".
SE/LINEAMENTA/MIDDLE EASTVIS 100119 (710)


Teachings of Christ

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Theophany

At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * “You have come, and You have appeared , O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die.

St. Gregory the Great