ASIA/LEBANON - Jubilee Year: Melkite Greek Catholic Church celebrates 300 years of union with the Church of Rome

Tuesday, 11 July 2023 middle east   oriental churches   ecumenicalism  

Raboué (Agenzia Fides) - The year 2024 will be for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church a "Jubilee year, celebrated under the sign of unity among all Christians. A special time in which we are called to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the restoration of the full Communion between the Melkite Church and the Church of Rome". The announcement of the Jubilee Year, entitled "The Greek-Melkite Catholic Church: An ecumenical journey 1724-2024" was made today, July 11, by Melkite Patriarch Yossef Absi, during a press conference at the Patriarch's headquarters in Raboué (Lebanon). "The Synod of our Church", explained the Patriarch, "did not want this anniversary to pass without us reflecting on the past, present and future path of our Church and her mission". Tracing the history of the Church of Antioch, "founded by the Apostle Peter" and of which the Apostle Paul also belonged, Patriarch Youssef also recalled the theological disputes and divisions that throughout history have divided the ecclesial communities born from the first apostolic preaching. In the Middle East, starting from the seventeenth century, Western Catholic missionaries "sought to heal the breach and achieve the desired unity between the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Church of Rome". This effort grew into a "reunification movement" which, along with other important factors, led to other divisions within the Church of Antioch itself: "since 1724, we have the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church". Every split has left its mark and led to painful tensions. "But despite all this", said the Patriarch, "the Churches of Antioch have fulfilled their mission of preserving the Christian faith and have overcome all the critical moments they have lived through". And today, "thanks to Almighty God and the will of those responsible, the relationships between our church and sister churches continue to be one of mutual respect, brotherly love and collaboration in the service of the one gospel, while our faithful often have a privileged experience of gathering under the roof of the same house from different denominations to bear a clear testimony of their belonging to Christ". As previously reported by Fides, the Jubilee Year of the Melkite Church will open on November 11 in Damascus (Syria) with a solemn liturgy presided over by Patriarch Youssef Absi in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition. The program of the Jubilee Year includes liturgical celebrations, study conferences, publications and in-depth historical, theological and ecumenical studies, and exhibitions on the spiritual and artistic heritage preserved by the Melkite communities in the Middle East. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 11/7/2023)