JUBILEE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF BYZANTINE RITE
| From the East to Jerusalem in Sign of Unity
JERUSALEM, JULY 7 (ZENIT.org).- The Great Jubilee has brought together in the Holy Land
Catholic Bishops of the Oriental Churches of the Byzantine rite. They arrived on pilgrimage at the
invitation of the Greek-Melkite Church and, since last Tuesday, have been meeting in a theological
symposium. This is a significant event because no such meeting has taken place since the fall of
It could have been a synod; Archbishop Lufti Laham, Melkite Patriarchal Vicar of the Holy City
and the instigator of the meeting, had thought about this, but political conditions continue to disallow
it. The absence of Patriarch Maximo V Hakin and the Bishops of Lebanon and Syria is
conspicuous; these countries still consider themselves to be in a state of war with Israel, and do not
permit visits to the Jewish State.
In addition to Archbishop Laham, the host delegation brings together the Archbishops of Galilee
and Jordan, and the Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria, Egypt. There are 5 Bishops from the Ukraine,
and as many from Rumania. Respective Bishops head delegations from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria,
Greece, and Slovakia; the Archimandrite of Slovakia is also attending this event.
During the opening ceremony at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, the participants were
welcomed by heads and representatives of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Churches of
Jerusalem, as well as diplomats and civil authorities. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic
delegate, read a message from the Pope, which focused on ecumenism, the principal topic of the
meeting. The Holy Father expressed the hope that "the symposium will give fruits and encourage
contacts and co-operation among the Churches, so that in this new millennium true witness will be
given of unity in Jesus Christ, of solidarity and fraternal love among all the sons and daughters of the
One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."
In his opening address, Archbishop Laham said the objectives of the meeting were threefold: to get
to know one another better, to reinforce one another in the faith and fraternal communion, and to
examine a common plan of action for the future.