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RELEASE – The Catholic Ordinaries had their bi-annual meeting in Haifa on October 11 and 12, 2016. Below is the communiqué released after the meeting, with the main themes discussed and considered by the Assembly. 

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Statement from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

The Assembly’s bi-annual meeting was held in a fraternal and collegial atmosphere at the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery in Haifa on October 11 and 12, 2016 with the participation of the Catholic Ordinaries of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus, and in the presence of the two Apostolic Nuncios.

The following themes were discussed and considered by the Assembly:

  1. The Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, written by Pope Francis following  the two Synods on the Family. This document presents the Christian marriage in theological, biblical, moral and pastoral perspectives. Given its importance, this document should be read and studied by all parish priests and all couples. The parish which is a “family of families”, is responsible for preparing couples for marriage, accompanying them in the early years of their marriage and most especially in times of crisis or difficulties, and to continue to welcome them into the life of the parish if they were in an irregular situation.
  1. The relationship between Bishops and Religious in the Church in the light of 1978 document Mutuae Relationesfrom the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In this context, the Assembly invited one representative each from men and women religious to participate in this  bi-annual meeting.  Their presence will promote better collaboration among the local churches and religious congregations whose charisms are at the service of the faithful.
  1. The pilgrimage of the youth of the Holy Land in Krakow and their participation in the World Youth Day 2016.  The Bishops heard testimonies of some young people from Galilee and their chaperons, who were filled with enthusiasm for having experienced the catholicity of the Church and great faith.  They asked to be supported in their journey of faith and in their witness with other young people.
  1. The response to issues related to the document, sent by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.  It is the result of 20 years of intense ecumenical work.  Among the topics covered by this document, we refer to the relationship between primacy and synodality in the first ten centuries of the history of the Church. These are the two aspects of its life and nature, perceived differently in the East and the West.
  1. The activities of Caritas and the Secretariats of the Catholic or Christian schools in the Holy Land.  The Bishops  thanked these organizations for their efforts.  They are aware of the increasing difficulties that confront schools in Galilee and Jerusalem, and undertake to support the work of the secretariats, even review their statutes and work procedures to bring about more effective processes and operational methods.

The Bishops prayed with the cloistered Carmelite Sisters of Haifa, and asked for their prayers for the people of the Holy Land and for peace in Syria and Iraq. We join Pope Francis in expressing our solidarity with the suffering of the people of Syria, asking with urgency for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo to allow the evacuation of civilians and especially  children, trapped by the bombings.

The next session of the Assembly will take place in Bethlehem on March 14 and 15.

Haifa, October 12, 2016

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