The Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions (CELRA) held its 71st plenary assembly in Abu Dhabi from 18 to 21 October. The Synod, COVID-19 and catechist training were some of the topics discussed at the meeting. For the former patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem, it is necessary to rediscover “the dimension of being together”.
Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) – Latin bishops and patriarchs in Arab lands held a three-day meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which ended at noon today.
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, led the 71st plenary Assembly of the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Region (CELRA[*]), held on 18-21 October in Abu Dhabi at St. Paul Church in Musaffah.
For Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, former patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem and Palestine, “finding ourselves as a community, meeting and reuniting after the separation imposed by the global health emergency” were part of the meeting’s goals.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year and a half ago, “we have become accustomed to following the Mass on television, via the Internet or by other technological means,” Bishop Marcuzzo said. However, in doing so, we have lost the dimension of being together.”
“This is one of the aspects we must focus on during the first phase of the Synod works,” announced by Pope Francis. In fact, “celebrating the sacraments, communion, confession” entails being together.
During the still ongoing pandemic, “we have discovered our vulnerability, how fragile we are and how important it is to be united in solidarity both between different regions and within the same diocese.”
In addition to the host, Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia and apostolic administrator of North Arabia, eight bishops and four patriarchal vicars were present from the region (Cyprus, Jordan, Nazareth and Jerusalem). They were joined by Vatican diplomatic officials stationed in the region, including the apostolic nuncio to Kuwait and the chargé d’affaires of the apostolic nunciature in the UAE.
Before starting their meeting, participants visited Abu Dhabi and prayed for minority Christians in the region, who often face hardships if not outright persecution in the lands where they live.
Last night the various prelates concelebrated Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, in Abu Dhabi, before resuming their work.
Discussions focused various issues, such as the timing and procedures to prepare the 2021-23 Synod, the impact of COVID-19 on the life of the Churches, education, the newly established catechist ministry, and the pastoral guidelines for the mission.
A communiqué prepared for the end of the meeting outlined various points, including “making better use of the means of technology to link us”, going beyond the initiatives currently in place to cope with the pandemic.
“One example is remote learning in schools, which has shown its limits,” Bishop Marcuzzo explained. “The school will be the domain for new educational projects inspired by Fratelli tutti and Laudato Sì.”
Finally, as another important issue, catechist training highlights the central importance of education, especially in the Church of the Holy Land and the Middle East, made up largely of migrants in many areas.
“We have many catechists but they are often not adequately prepared,” the prelate noted. “Training centres must be set up specifically for them and the mission to which they are called.”
[*] Conférence des Evêques Latins dans les Régions Arabes.