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JERUSALEM – the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land met on November 8-9, 2017, at Maison d’Abraham. Here follows an account of the meeting.

Final statement of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, November 8-9, 2017.

Jerusalem, November 9, 2017

The meeting, chaired by Melkite Archbishop George Bacouni, was held at Maison d’Abraham in Jerusalem, on November 8 and 9, and included the Catholic Ordinaries of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus, two representatives of the Union of Men and Women Religious of the Holy Land, in the presence of Archbishop Alberto Ortega, Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan, and Monsignor Marco Formica, Chargé d’affaires of the Nunciature and the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, visiting the Holy Land to further promote ecumenical dialogue, honored the Assembly by participating at the opening of the meeting and answering questions of the Assembly on the progress of ecumenical relations.

Monsignor Formica read the message of the new Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, whose official arrival in Jerusalem is set for November 27.

The following subjects were studied by the Assembly:

1 – The Educational project for Catholic schools, presented by Fr. Iyad Twal on behalf of the General Secretariat, was approved. The project affirms that the scope of Catholic schools is to guarantee an integral human formation, a knowledge of human and Christian values. The school must move beyond an instructive teaching method to a student-centered style of teaching.

2 – The next World Youth Day in Panama: The Holy Land dioceses will participate at the event in January 2019.

3 – The next Synod in 2018 on “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment”: Bishop Shomali presented the questionnaire included in the final Lineamenta (preparation document) and highlighted the great challenges and important opportunities for the young people of our countries. Two of the greatest challenges concern political insecurity and unemployment that lead to emigration. Another is the interreligious cordiality at a time of increasing radicalization. Amid the opportunities, answers highlighted the existence of a relatively young clergy, the contribution of religious congregations and the lofty piety of our faithful. In addition, the expectation of young people is that the clergy be more coherent and credible in lifestyle, closer to their concerns and aspirations, that the Church be less bureaucratic and a witness of God’s mercy.

The presidents of the various episcopal commissions presented their reports on the occasion of the end of the five-year mandate in view of the new appointments. The bishops listened to the reports of the following commissions: Family (Archbishop Maroun Lahham), Justice and Peace (Patriarch Emeritus Archbishop Michel Sabbah), Pilgrimages (Fr. Pietro Felet), Youth (Bishop William Shomali), Ecumenical Dialogue (Fr. Franz Bouwen), Pontifical Missionary Works (Fr. Abdo Abdo) and the Commission of Legal Affairs (Fr. Dau).

The next meeting of the Assembly of Bishops is slated for April 11-12, 2018, in Cyprus.

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