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» 01/07/2011
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Churches of the Holy Land pray for Christian unity
by Arieh Cohen
Celebrations scheduled for January 23 to 30, later than in rest of the world because of the Armenian Orthodox feast of Epiphany. The Christians of Jerusalem invited to discover a "true ecumenism". But the Greek-orthodox churches will not hold common services and other evangelical communities will not participate in the celebrations.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - The programme has been published of the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Jerusalem. It will take place later than elsewhere, from 23 to 30 January, out of consideration for the Armenian Orthodox feast of the Epiphany (which, following the most ancient practice of the Church, includes also the celebration of the Birth of Christ - “Christmas” - in accordance with the Julian calendar. Ecumenical prayer services will be held, in the following order; in the Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Lutheran, Latin Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and Anglican churches. The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land will host a service in the Cenacle, the Room of the Last Supper, as well as the service in the Latin-rite parish church, which is the conventual church of its principal seat nowadays, St. Saviour’s.

The Greek Orthodox churches in Jerusalem avoids hosting specifically ecumenical prayer services. To overcome that, Catholics and Protestants will simply be present at the regular celebration of “Apodeipnon” (Compline) by the Greek Orthodox monks on Mount Calvary, within the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre – which the Greeks significantly call the Anastasis, the Resurrection - on Saturday, 22 January. Absent from the list are also houses of worship of significant Evangelical communities (except for the Anglicans and the Lutherans), notably the Baptists.

To make the celebration of the Week of Unity specific to Jerusalem, the participating churches have chosen as its theme: “One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer” (cf. Acts 2:42).  They explain that their purpose is to “call all Christians to rediscover the values that bound together the early Christian community in Jerusalem.” Thus they mean to say that, “the Christians of Jerusalem call upon their brothers and sisters to make this week of prayer an occasion for a renewed commitment to work for a genuine ecumenism, grounded in the experience of the early Church.” In the light of that, these Jerusalem churches ask of Christians throughout the world to “ remember them in their precarious situation and to pray for justice that will bring peace in the Holy Land.”

In the Holy Land, in effect, Christian unity is an existential, not only a theological, imperative. The occasional fights between Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox monks at the Holy Sepulchre are a recurring source of scandal worldwide, and a cause of great distress to the Catholics who are never involved, are not allowed to intervene, and are reduced to watching helplessly until the police restore order. On a wider scale, the effort to secure the tiny Christian presence in the Holy Land as a whole can only be rendered that much more difficult by divisions and disunion. “That they may all be one” is therefore a prayer and a task that in this Land have a special urgency.


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See also
09/27/2004 israel - holy land
"Peaceful" Orthodox Patriarch assaults police and friars inside the Holy Sepulchre Basilica
05/25/2005 ISRAEL - PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Joy among Jerusalem Orthodox, Ireneos excommunicated as Patriarch
06/13/2005 israel - palestine - holy land
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate "hostage" of Israeli and Palestinian government
by Aryeh Cohen
04/23/2008 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Land mine threat: no baptisms in the Jordan
03/24/2005 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
by Bernardo Cervellera

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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