The 7th Regional Canon Conference which, opened on July 16, concluded its sessions on Sunday, July 22. The conference titled, “Towards an Ecclesiastical Canon Culture” was held in cooperation with the Pontifical University of Lateran in Rome as well the Latin ecclesiastical courts in both Jerusalem and Amman in the presence of dozens of bishops, priests, and lawyers from Jordan, Palestine, the Galilee, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Italy.
Fr. Emile Salayta opened the conference by welcoming the participating ecclesiastical lawyers from Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt.
Representing the Ecclesiastical court in Jordan, Fr. Shawki Batrian said that the importance of the family is increasing rapidly owing to the wars and the forcible displacements taking place in the world which lead to the fragmentation of families. He also called for educating people on the values of marriage which include mutual respect.
The Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Bishop William Shomali delivered an address on behalf of Most Rev. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He said: “Marital problems are on the rise. This is revealed in increased demands for separation or nullification of marriage because couples can no longer live under the same roof of love”. He stressed the importance of making advance preparations by those wishing to get married, pointing out that the courses organized by the ecclesiastical courts in Jordan enable those to be married to make serious preparations and be acquainted with the fact that with marriage they make mutual commitment to live according to a sacrament.
Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martín Archbishop addressed the Church’s education regarding marriage, pointing out that His Holiness Pope Francis pays great attention to the family and repeatedly discusses this issue. He pointed out that the Church welcomes those suffering from marital problems and calls on them to reconcile differences so as to resume their procession on the route of love.
Pontifical University of Lateran Professor Antonio Yakarino presented a lecture on “Judicial Evidence” which was followed by a lecture by Professor Manuel Aruba Kunde, dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical University of Lateran, on “Appeals in General”.
Fr. Maron Nasir presented a lecture on “Request for retrial, in accordance with Laws 1645-1648” which was followed by another lecture titled, “”Appeal and execution of judgment “by Pontifical University of Lateran Professor Antonio Yakarino.
The conference issued several recommendations, most notably the establishment and activation of family and marriage guidance centers, introducing specialized mediation to solve marital problems before and after dealing with them at courts, as well as forming groups of lay people and priests to help and guide couples.
The conference sessions ended by celebrating Mass that was preceded by presentation of certificates to the participants in the conference. Bishop Shomali expressed appreciation to the efforts exerted by Fr. Emile Salayta and by the canon preparatory committee of the conference in the ecclesiastical courts of Jerusalem and Amman. He also thanked the participating delegations from the Arab countries. He also hoped that peace would prevail in the region.
Bishop Shomali also thanked the parties that supported the conference, namely the Latin Patriarchate, Pontifical University of Lateran, the Custody of the Holy Land, the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, Caritas Jordan, the Bank of Palestine, the St. Yves Foundation, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, and the other media outlets that helped cover the conference sessions.
The conference issued the following recommendations:
1. The need to continue the momentum of convening conferences and to increase the representatives of all the Catholic courts.
2. Establishing and activating centers for family and marriage counseling with the intention of dealing with problems prior to and after being filed in ecclesiastical courts.
3. Forming groups of lay people and priests willing to give advice and guidance to families.
4. Launching a specialized canon library that can be followed up on websites to serve as a reference to lawyers.
5) Printing and providing judgments issued by the local ecclesiastical courts.
6. Translating the provisions of the Roman Rota legislations especially in cases relevant to marriage.
7) Expanding the role of female lawyers and activating their role as leaders in the conference and its committees, and
8) Coordinating with the American University of Madaba in Jordan, and the University of Bethlehem in Palestine, to launch a diploma specialized in articles relevant to the Journal of the Legal Institute in articles dealing with marriage and family guidance.