The Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land gathered in Nazareth in the Abuna Faraj Center from March 13-14, 2012 for their General Assembly which is held biannually. On the agenda was the election of officers and the meeting with students from 10 schools.
Established in 1992, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (AOCTS) brings together the heads of the Churches of the Holy Land. It meets in full assembly biannually. Having met in Amman last October, it is in the Abuna Faraj Center in Nazareth that the members of the Assembly are gathered from March 12-14. All were present, with the exception of the Armenian Archbishop who is presently in Rome for the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church.
Tuesday, March 12, after approval of the budget and a first round of interventions, the attention of everyone was focused on the theme of the New Evangelization. With a common remarks, Patriarch Touad Twal and Father Guy Tardivy, superior of the Jerusalem Dominicans, marked the priorities of this New Evangelization, offering some concrete and specific clues to the Church of the Holy Land. The members also worked on the Pastoral Council of each bishop thanks to the help of a document by Msgr. Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem. In the afternoon, the participants were able to visit the Mary of Nazareth Center, a project for which the patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Msgr. Marcuzzo, has spared no efforts. After watching an audiovisual showing, the religious leaders shared lunch with some families, spending time in conversation with them. The same families will travel to Milan from 30 May to 3 June, to the 7th World meeting of the families at which will also Pope Benedict XVI will participate.
Wednesday, March 14, was marked by two strong points: vote for the renewal of appointmentsand the Holy Mass. Regarding the first point, the following were appointed:
– Msgr. Elias Chacour, Vice-President of the Assembly,
– Msgr. Chihana, 3rd member of the Permanent Council,
– Msgr. Lahham, President of the Episcopal Commission for the Family,
– Msgr. Shomali, President of the Episcopal Pastoral Commission for Youth,
– Msgr. Sabbah, for the “Justice and Peace” Commission,
– Msgr. Zerey as Referent for schools.
The second important moment of the day was the Mass, presided over by the Patriarch, followed by ameeting with around 100 students of the Holy Land. During the homily, Mons. Chacour exhorted the youth to be “truthful witnesses”, emphasizing that the Church cannot do without them because they are the “future of the country”. The Assembly members were reported to be very “impressed” by the “silence and attention” of the young people that filled the Basilica. Representing the 10 schools, aged between 14 and 18 years, student were able to eventually meet their Bishops and talk freely with them. “A good time for the Ordinaries who always cherish the pastoral dimension in their programs”, reports Father Pietro Felet, Secretary General of the Assembly.
The next Plenary Assembly of the Ordinaries of the Holy Land will be held next September in Ramallah.
Amélie de La Hougue