LEBANON - On Friday, February 17th, 2023, the Continental Synodal Assembly of Catholic Churches in the Middle East concluded its conference, which was held from February 13th to 17th, in Bethany-Harissa. At the end of the meeting, the following statement was issued:
We and our praying people thank the Holy Spirit who led us together for a synodal church and inspired us to pray together in communion, participation, and mission through this Continental Synodal Assembly of Catholic Churches in the Middle East that brought together the Catholic family with its seven churches in Bethania - Harissa over a week from 13 to 17 February.
This gathering comes in difficult circumstances in our region, especially the economic and humanitarian ones, particularly the repercussions of the devastating earthquake that struck our brothers in Syria and Turkey. Therefore, the participants in the assembly stopped at this painful and heartbreaking event and raised daily prayers for the victims, wounded, and displaced in the affected areas.
And because we are children of the Resurrection, we followed the work of this assembly, which is the continental stage and a link in the continuous synodal journey.
At this point, we would like to thank their Beatitudes, Patriarchs Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Al-Rahi, Patriarch of the Maronite Antioch Church, Anba Ibrahim Isaac, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church, Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syriac Catholics, Youssef Al-Absi, Patriarch of Antioch for the Melkite Roman Catholics, and Cardinal Mar Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad for the Chaldeans, Raphael Bedros, the 21st Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia, and Pierrebattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who were dedicated, along with the participating delegations from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf states, to the success of the work of this assembly and to show profound advantages that unite our churches and establish their presence as a church of hope in the countries of the Middle East despite their presence in the heart of the ordeal, as a church that challenges the imposed reality.
The participants in the Assembly's work also extend their thanks to the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and to the coordinator of the next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, and Sister Nathalie Becquart, Deputy Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, for attending the work of the Assembly and living with them this synodal experience that added dynamism, especially on the life of the Catholic Church in the Middle East and on its life in the world. All the latter is based on the request of His Holiness Pope Francis from the sons of the Catholic Church, in general, to review their Christian lives and “walk together” or Journey together in the light of the Gospel and the requirements of the present time in preparation for the Synod that will be held in the Vatican in October 2023 and 2024, entitled: "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission".
The continental stage, which was held in Bethania - Harissa, focused on prayer, spiritual discernment, thinking together, and working for a week about what emerged during the first consultations in local churches in various countries of the Middle East and the Gulf.
It has reaffirmed the following basic constants of the Church:
The time of holy fasting, which begins next Monday, February 20, is the acceptable and distinguished time to hear what the Spirit says to our churches as we listen to the word of God, pray and repent, and do acts of love and mercy towards our brothers and sisters in their material, spiritual and moral needs, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, the Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles.