Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Pope in Lebanon: keep him in your prayers!

Source: L'Osservatore Romano
The Pope has arrived in Lebanon for the start of his visit there.

The Pope also released an Apostolic Exhortation on the Church in the Middle East, following the Synod of Middle Eastern bishops held in 2010.

Islamic reaction

In the Exhortation the Pope takes the view that Islam does not condone violent enforcement of its views on others.  Sadly, the Islamic world at the moment seems intent on providing otherwise.

This week has seen the murder and possibly rape of the US Ambassador and other diplomats in Libya, attacks on Embassies across the world, and an American school set on fire in Tunisia, allegedly in reaction to a US-made film. 

In Tripoli, Islamists attacked the KFC, Krisy Kreme and other US identified targets demonstrating against the Pope's visit, with soldiers opening fire.

Ecclesiology

Nonetheless, the Pope's new Apostolic Exhortation looks on a quick skim to be an extremely important document indeed whose relevance goes well beyond the Eastern Catholic Churches. 

It has a lot to say about ecumenism properly conceived and the scope for interreligious dialogue.  It also sets out a lot of crucial ecclesiology on the relationship between the Universal and local churches, and the roles and relationships between the Pope, patriarchs, bishops, priests, religious and laity.

It also provides strong acknowledgment of the importance of the traditions and rites of the Eastern Churches, noting for example that:

"Ecumenical unity does not mean uniformity of traditions and celebrations." (17)

and that:
Throughout history the liturgy has been an essential element in the spiritual unity and communion of the faithful in the Middle East. Indeed, the liturgy is an outstanding witness to the apostolic Tradition as preserved and developed in the particular traditions of the Churches of East and West."   Please pray for the Pope's safety.

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