JORDAN – The Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions (CELRA) met in Jordan on February 13 to 15, 2017. It was an opportunity for the Bishops and Vicars to share the specific challenges in their respective countries and to unify their work.
Present during the annual meeting were the Latin Bishops of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, which was held at the Visitation House of the Rosary Sisters in Dabouq (Amman-Fuheis), Jordan.
The Bishops and Vicars of the Latin Patriarchate: Archbishop Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator; Bishop Shomali, Vicar in Jordan; Bishop Marcuzzo, Vicar in Israel; Fr. David Neuhaus,SJ, Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics and responsible for the Pastoral among migrants; Fr. Kraj, OFM, Vicar in Cyprus were joined by Bishop Cesar Essayan of Lebanon, Bishop Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia; Bishop Zaki, Apostolic Vicar of Alexandria in Egypt; Archbishop Sleiman of Iraq; and Bishop Abu Khazen of Syria. The two Apostolic Nuncios also participated in the meetings: Archbishop Ortega Martin in Iraq and Jordan, and Archbishop Lazzarotto in Israel and Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, who is the Acting President of CELRA since the retirement of Patriarch Twal.
During these three days, the Bishops and Vicars presented and discussed their pastoral ministry in every country and the present socio-political situation. Among the testimonies were the poignant narratives of Archbishop Slleiman of Iraq, Bishop Abu Khazen of Syria (resident in Aleppo), Bishop Adel Zaki of Egypt. Bishop Paul Hinder whose jurisdiction covers Yemen, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, spoke of the challenges brought about by the huge community of migrants from Asia and Africa and his concern for the small Christian community that remains in Yemen despite the war.
In the absence of a Latin Patriarch, who is the President of CELRA, the Bishops elected Archbishop Pizzaballa as Vice President. The meeting was also an opportunity for a re-reading of the statutes and regulations of the CELRA established fifty years ago. The Bishops then diligently reviewed the official liturgical texts of the rite of marriage in Arabic and the new altar missal to be sent to Rome for final approval.
The three days of work concluded at the Nunciature in Amman, where the participants were welcomed by Bishop Ortega Martin over lunch.
The next meeting is scheduled for late January – early February 2018, most likely to be held in Egypt.