Plenary meeting of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
October 5-6, 2021
NAZARETH – The Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land met in Nazareth for their ordinary plenary meeting on October 5-6, 2021, guests of the Casa Nova for pilgrims, which we thank for the fraternal welcome. The choice of location was dictated by the celebration of the year dedicated to St. Joseph and his family. On Tuesday evening, all the Ordinaries participated in the prayer together with the faithful, thanking the Lord for the united and happy families and imploring the God of mercy for those wounded, divided or in difficulty.
Before starting the work of the assembly, His Beatitude Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, president of the Assembly, welcomed the new Nuncio and Apostolic Delegate, the new members and those who attended virtually on behalf of those present.
1. The Catholic Ordinaries unanimously voted on the text Guidelines for ecumenical pastoral care. Each Bishop will present it to his own clergy and to the people involved in the parish ministry, explaining to them the spirit with which this decree was prepared. Ecumenical dialogue, when based on clarity of purpose and transparency of action, will help us to walk together towards unity in faith despite the diversity of ecclesial traditions.
2. For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission is the theme of the next Synod of Bishops which will begin in Rome on October 9-10, and will be open in every diocese on October 17 or in the following days, to end in Rome in October 2023 after passing through the diocesan, national and continental phase. The attempt is to involve and listen to the greatest number of people, believers or not, committed or marginalized, open to dialogue and acceptance and able to bring new life, or shut in behind their own certainties.
In order to involve everyone, pastors, priests, consecrated persons, Catholic action groups, young and old, successful families or in difficulty, multi-religious and multicultural environments, the Ordinaries have appointed and entrusted Fr. David Neuhaus sj, representative of the religious within the Assembly, the task of organizing the work and of being the point of reference for the people who will be chosen to carry out the task of ‘facilitators’ in the various countries (Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus) and in the various ecclesiastical circumscriptions. Fr. Neuhaus will be the official spokesperson of the Assembly, keeping in touch with the press and organizing a site dedicated to the synodal journey in the Holy Land.
The Ordinaries reaffirmed their willingness to walk together and work together. The opening of the synodal journey was set for October 30 at the shrine of Our Lady Queen of Palestine for the Israel-Palestine region, while the Ordinaries in Jordan and Cyprus will agree on the most convenient day and time.
3. The Ministry of Catechist. Religious teaching is often linked to the school, and religion teachers each choose the books they want, or they teach without following a method. The service of catechesis, therefore, must not depend directly on the school office, because the parish is also a place of primary importance for catechesis. There is a need to prepare catechetical material suitable for all ages: children, young people, young people, adults, and for various situations, such as the phase of preparation for the Sacraments and the life of families.
It is necessary to have a Catechetical office with experienced people capable of setting up a wide-ranging work, to help the theological formation of religion teachers and to publish the necessary aids. At the same time, it is necessary to begin a reflection on the foundation of a theological faculty for the laity and for possible candidates for the ministry of catechist.
4. We then discussed other topics, such as the presence of consecrated life (male and female) and the training of the employees of the Catholic institutions (schools, hospitals, parish groups, etc.) carried out by the Safeguarding Center, recently established by the Assembly.
Decisions of the Assembly:
1. The Assembly elected Archbishop Yousef Matta as Vice-President of the Assembly and Archbishop Moussa El-Hage as a member of the Permanent Episcopal Committee.
2. The Assembly appointed Fr. Yacoub Rafidi, current General Director of the Latin Patriarchate schools in Palestine, as secretary general of the Secretariat for Christian Educational Institutions.
3. The next Assembly plenary will take place in Jerusalem on March 22-23, 2022.