Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - In the synodal journey that has just begun, the Catholic Church of the Holy Land "listens" to the wisdom and experience of the other Churches present in the land of Jesus, and for this reason also encourages its own priests "to be in touch with the priests and pastors of all the Christian communities that live in their areas". It is a kind of "ecumenical SOS" launched by the ordinary Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land with the explicit intention of informing and possibly involving the brothers of the other Churches and local ecclesial communities on the articulated synodal path also started in that region in view of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the agenda for October 2023 and dedicated to the theme "For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission".
In a document drawn up ad hoc, and disseminated not by chance in the context of the just concluded Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Ordinaries of the Catholic Churches turn to the Heads of the other Churches present in the Holy Land, informing them first of all of the missionary intentions that animate the synodal process started also in the land of Jesus, as has happened in every Catholic diocese, at the invitation of Pope Francis: "It focuses on setting out on a journey together, listening to one another and growing in communion, strengthening participation of all and engaging more enthusiastically in the mission of the Church. As we walk together, we realize yet again that we do not walk alone", explain the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land. The aim of this synod - adds the document - is to "renew our Church at a time when we face so many crises at every level", noting that even in the Holy Land "the pandemic has had tragic effects on the life of the Church", while "the political situation continues to create innumerable obstacles to our mission and in the lives of our faithful. Our faithful are exhausted and often despair, seeing little or no future for Christians in our region". In this situation - continue the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land - "We all need to renew our energies, recommit to our faith and believe that walking with Christ leads to a horizon of hope".
The local phase of the synodal journey will last until the beginning of September 2022. During this time, our parishes, Christian institutions, congregations and movements will be walking the synodal way together, also in order to "draw up an exhaustive report on the state of Church. And in this process - the Catholic Bishops explain, addressed to the heads of other Churches and ecclesial communities "we would be delighted to share with you what we are learning and also learn from you, listening to your wisdom and experience. Pope Francis has said and written repeatedly that Catholics have much to learn from the Orthodox regarding the exercise of synodality. As we set out on this way, we are more aware than ever that we, all together, as disciples of Christ in this Land, which is His home, are called to witness to him. We remember that his dearest wish was that we should be one (cf. John 17)".
In the synodal journey - continues the text released by the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land - "we are invited to listen more than to speak. We are listening for the voice of the Lord as we encounter Him and the way, the voice of the Holy Spirit as it comes to us through reading the Scriptures and encountering our neighbors. With listening being at the center of the Synodal process, we wish not only to inform you of this process but also listen to anything you might want to say to us.
We encourage our priests to be in touch with the priests and pastors of all the Christian communities that live in their areas".
The text released by the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land reports in words the "prayer for the Synod" recited on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: "Heavenly Father, as the Magi journeyed towards Bethlehem led by the star,so by your heavenly light,
guide the Catholic Church to walk together with all Christians during this time of synod.
As the Magi were united in their worship of Christ, lead us closer to your Son and so to one another, so that we become a sign of the unity that you desire for your Church and the whole creation".
At the beginning of November, as reported by Fides (see Fides, 4/11/2021), the Assembly of Catholic Ordinary Bishops of the Holy Land issued the "Ecumenical Pastoral Directives" for the Catholic Churches. On the basis of these provisions, a priest belonging to one of the Catholic communities present in the Holy Land can administer the sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the sick even to Christians belonging to Orthodox and Eastern non-Catholic Churches, if they request it spontaneously, on their own initiative, "and are adequately prepared". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 26/1/2022)