Holy Land’s Catholic bishops invite Orthodox leaders to contribute to synodal path

Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa blesses the congregation at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on April 4, 2021. Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa blesses the congregation at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on April 4, 2021. | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Catholic bishops in the Holy Land invited their Orthodox counterparts this week to contribute to the consultation process leading to the 2023 Synod on Synodality.

In a letter dated Jan. 24, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) explained that Catholics in the region were taking part in the local stage of a two-year synodal path launched by Pope Francis last October.

“We would be delighted to share with you what we are learning and also learn from you, listening to your wisdom and experience,” they wrote.

“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).”

The letter to the heads of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land was signed by ACOHL president Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and secretary-general Father Pietro Felet.

The Assembly comprises leaders of the Latin Church, Greek Melkite Catholic Church, Maronite Church, Armenian Catholic Church, Syriac Catholic Church and Chaldean Catholic Church in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus.

The bishops issued their invitation as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual event that Pope Francis concluded this year on Jan. 25 at an ecumenical service in Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

The Holy Land’s Catholic bishops explained that the synodal process was seeking to renew the Church as it faced “so many crises at every level.”

“The pandemic has had tragic effects on the life of the Church. The political situation continues to create innumerable obstacles to our mission and in the lives of our faithful,” they wrote.

“Our faithful are exhausted and often despair, seeing little or no future for Christians in our region. We all need to renew our energies, recommit to our faith and believe that walking with Christ leads to a horizon of hope.”

The bishops concluded their letter with a “Synodal Prayer on the occasion of the week for Christian Unity,” whose theme this year was “We saw a star in the East, and we came to worship him,” inspired by Matthew 2:2:

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.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

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