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The Churches of the East: "A Wonderful Story of Evangelization”

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Seven Eastern Catholic churches will be participating in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. They are the Churches of the Latin or Roman rite, the Maronite, the Melkite,…More
Seven Eastern Catholic churches will be participating in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. They are the Churches of the Latin or Roman rite, the Maronite, the Melkite, the Syriac Catholic, the Coptic Catholic, the Armenian Catholic, and the Chaldean. Rites that were first born in the Middle East are now found all over the world and in the midst of challenges and hopes.

Father Frédéric Manns, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem: "In 15 days the synod fathers will have to deal with all the problems of the Middle East, starting with Iraq, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, the Occupied Territories. It’s a geo-political reality that is incredibly complex and diverse."

Indeed-- cultures, and different rituals, all tied to a single root: "All the Catholic churches in the Middle East, as well as each Christian community in the world, date from the early Christian church of Jerusalem, united by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost," states the Synod's guidelines, adding that they speak of "the wonderful story of evangelization recounted in the Acts of the Apostles."

Father Frédéric Manns: "Yes, the Church was born here on the day of Pentecost. First we need to remember that Pentecost is a Jewish holiday, the holiday of Shavuot. The prophets announced a new alliance: 'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you' and know that God's new covenant foretold by the prophets is his performance on the day of Pentecost, because God gives his people a new spirit. And the Spirit upon the Apostles transforms the primitive community, which was frightened, afraid of the Jews, and closed up in the Upper Room ...the Spirit turns them into a people who are not afraid to proclaim Christ who died and rose for everyone."

The Church has developed over the centuries based on three pillars: faith, ritual and community. Each in its different traditions and cultures. The beauty of every church is in its communion and in the diversity of expression.

Father Frédéric Manns: "Since the Church respects the different forms and respects the different cultures, this is very important. She never tried to make everyone the same, no ... unity is not uniformity. Unity is to agree on the essentials, they agree on the kerigma. We try to keep our Christian identity in the midst of the Jewish people, in the midst of the Muslim people, where we could become lost because we are a small church in the diaspora, even though we are always at the heart of Christianity. If we keep this message, I think nothing is lost. Hope remains for us. "

The Synod guidelines stress it is "therefore necessary to strengthen the common ground at all levels: within each Eastern Catholic church, including all the Catholic churches and other Christian churches. Simultaneosly, the Christian witness to Jews, Muslims and other believers or nonbelievers should be strengthened. " It is in the midst of these religious and cultural challenges, including wars and conflict, that Christians have lived for over 2000 years.

Father Frédéric Manns: "Jesus himself had proclaimed, 'Do not be afraid, little flock'. It is not the quantity that matters, it is the quality-- to maintain our Christian identity, presenting Jesus, presenting the only commandment, to love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength."