Read the prepartory text and accompanying questions which the Vatican has published for the Synod on the Middle East which will take place in October 2010.

Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops

October 10-24, 2010

Click on link to download Lineamenta for Synod on Middle East.

Responding to the request made by several Bishops from the region that reaches from Egypt to Iran, the Holy Father Benedict XVI convoked the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place October 10-24, 2010, on the theme:

The Catholic Church in the Middle East:
Communion and Witness.
‘Now the company of those who believed
were of one heart and soul'” (Acts 4: 32).

The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Monsignor Fortunato Frezza, Undersecretary, presented the Lineamenta (Guidelines) of the Synodal Assembly in the Holy See Press Office on January 19, 2010.

Every part of the Lineamenta is accompanied by a series of questions (see below) that will help the Synods of Bishops of the Catholic Eastern Churches, Bishops’ Conferences, Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Union of Major Superiors, to discuss the contents of the document.

Structure of Lineamenta

The text of the Lineamenta is divided into three chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion.

The beginning recalls the main pastoral aim of the Assembly:

to confirm and strengthen Christians in their identity through the Word of God and the sacraments and to deepen ecclesial communion among the particular Churches, so that they can bear witness to the Christian life in an authentic, joyful and winsome manner.

The first chapter is dedicated to the Catholic Church in the Middle East.

After recalling the history of the Church in the East, which dates back to the first Christian Church in Jerusalem and are characterized by apostolic zeal and a strong missionary tone, the text indicates some of the present challenges: political conflicts, freedom of religion and conscience, the presence of extremist factions of Islam, the large emigration of Christians from their countries of origin…

The second chapter concentrates on ecclesial communion.

Referring to the theological nature of the communion, that has its foundation in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the document explores the question of communion within the Catholic Church, i.e. among the various Eastern Catholic Churches. There are two main signs of Catholic communion: the celebration of the Eucharist and communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle and visible head of the whole Church. Communion is also expressed in the relations between the bishops of the various Eastern Catholic Churches, and the faithful among each other, and is manifested in everyday life. The document covers specific aspects of communion among Christians as enrollment in schools and institutions of higher education, the opportunity to receive assistance from institutions of charitable institutions like hospitals, orphanages, retirement homes, etc.. An important and practical aspect is the attendance of the faithful in other Catholic churches in the region.

The third chapter, the longest, is devoted to the Christian witness within the Church and outside her.

Dialogue with other Churches and Christian communities exists, but it needs to be increased. Dialogue with Judaism is the peculiarity of the Churches of Jerusalem, however, it is conditioned by the political situation that opposes the Palestinians and Arab world to the State of Israel. Relations with Muslims occupy a significant part of the Document. To improve the situation, we need to promote more dialogue to know each other better as well, and encourage objective presentation of Christianity and Islam.

The conclusions once more pose the reasons not so much from a political viewpoint as from a vision of faith, which is why it is essential that Christians remain in the Middle East and continue to offer their specific contribution to building a just, peaceful, and prosperous society.

(SL) (Agenzia Fides 21/01/2010)

Questions

Here is the list of questions sent to the local Churches in the Holy Land and Middle East to prepare for the synod on the region.

1. Do you read Scripture individually, in your family or in living communities?

2. Does this reading inspire the choices you make in family, professional and civic life?

3. What are the Churches doing to support and encourage vocations to the religious and contemplative life?

4. How can we contribute to the improvement of the social environment in the various countries in our region?

5. What is your Church doing to assist, with the necessary critical eye, in dealing with contemporary ideas in your societies?

6. How can respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience be increased?

7. What can be done to stop or slow the emigration of Christians from the Middle East?

8. How can we follow and stay in touch with Christian who have emigrated?

9. What should our Churches do to teach the faithful respect for immigrants and their right to be treated with justice and charity?

10. What is your Church doing to provide pastoral care for Catholic immigrants and to protect them against abuse and exploitation by the State (police and prison officers), by agencies and employers?

11. Do our Churches work to train Christian executives to contribute to the social and political life of our countries? What could they do?

12. What does communion in the Church mean?

13. How is communion manifested among the various Churches of the Middle East and between them and the Holy Father?

14. How can relations among the various Churches be improved in the areas of religious, charitable and cultural activity?

15. Does the attitude of “Church people” concerning money pose a problem for you?

16. Does participation of the faithful of your Church in celebrations of other Catholic Churches pose a problem for you?

17. How can relations of communion among the various people in the Church be improved: between bishops and priests, people in consecrated life, lay-people?

18. Does catechesis prepare the young to understand and live the faith?

19. Do homilies respond to the expectations of the faithful? Do they help them understand and live the faith?

20. Are Christian radio and TV programs adequate? Would you like to see something else in your country? What programs seem to you to be missing?

21. Practically speaking, how can ecumenical relations be promoted?

22. Does the re-discovery of a shared heritage (Syriac, Arabic and others) have some importance?

23. Do you think the liturgy needs to be reconsidered to some extent?

24. How can we bear witness to our Christian faith in our Middle Eastern countries?

25. How can relations with other Christians be improved?

26. How should we regard our relations with Judaism as a religion? How can peace and the end of political conflict be promoted?

27. In what areas can we collaborate with Muslims?

28. Why are we afraid of the future?

29. How do we incarnate our faith in our work?

30. How do we incarnate our faith in politics and society?

31. Do we believe we have a specific vocation in the Middle East?

32. Any other comments?