The many responses to the Questions of the Lineamenta show that the faithful are clearly aware of the two objectives of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, namely: a) to confirm and strengthen the members of the Catholic Church in their Christian identity, through the Word of God and the sacraments; and b) to foster ecclesial communion among the Churches sui iuris, so that they can bear witness to the Christian life in an authentic, joyous and winsome manner. Obviously, in such a reflection, Catholics have to bear in mind the presence of other Churches and ecclesial communities in the region. This is clearly evident in all the responses, a sign of the increasing importance of the ecumenical sensitivity of the particular Catholic Churches and individual members of the faithful, who endeavour, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, to put into practice the prayer of the Lord Jesus. “that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn 17:21). Ecumenism is a part of Christian witness everywhere, but primarily in the countries of the Middle East.
In a region where the followers of the three monotheistic religions
have lived together for centuries, Christians must get to know their Jewish
and Muslim neighbours well, if they are to collaborate with them in the
fields of religion, social interaction and culture for the good of society as a
whole. Religion, especially for those who profess one God, must
increasingly become the basis for peace, concord and the shared
commitment to promote the spiritual and material values of persons and
communities. This witness ought to generate a feeling and desire to become
faithful members of the community which, albeit suffering and saddened at
the moment, lives in hope that these afflictions can be turned into joy (cf.
Jn 16:20). The Risen Lord has promised to his followers: “ask, and you will
receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn 16:24).
Conscientiously fulfilling this vocation will require strengthening
communion at all levels of the Catholic Church in the Middle East,
beginning with each Church sui iuris. Clearly, the bonds of communion
should also be reinforced with the other Churches and ecclesial
communities, namely, the revered Orthodox Churches and communities
with roots in the Reformation. Strengthening communion is the task of all
people of good will, including leaders in the social, economic, cultural and
The faithful of the Churches sui iuris are understood to be individual
persons and their respective communities as a whole. Together with the
faithful of the Latin Church in the Middle East, they are the reference point
of the synodal assembly. Their Pastors, gathered around the Bishop of
Rome, the Universal Pastor of the Church, will consider the faithful’s joys
and sufferings and their hopes and anxieties, so as to consider every aspect
of their lives in the light of the Gospel. This desire is clearly expressed in
the responses which have arrived at the General Secretariat of the Synod of
Bishops. Consequently, the synodal fathers are asked not only to describe
the prevalent situation in their counties and analyse its positive and negative
aspects, but primarily to supply Christians with the basis for their existence
in a predominantly Muslim society, be it Arab, Turkish, Iranian or a Jewish
society in the State of Israel. The faithful are relying on their Pastors to give
them precise guidelines in (re)discovering their mission in each country,
which is nothing less than being authentic witnesses of the Risen Christ in
virtue of the power of the Holy Spirit, who abides in the Church of God.
They are to bear testimony in the countries where they were born and
presently live, countries which are characterised by not only social and
political development, but also, unfortunately, conflict and instability.