03/06/2024, 12.43
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Vicar of Arabia: a new Christian formation to overcome isolation and divisions

First pastoral letter by Bishop Martinelli, who urges the faithful not to be "slaves, but sons". The faith must be transmitted "no longer by convention, but with conviction" by communicating "the reasons why one believes". The call for an 'intercultural' path that allows the different Church realities present in the Gulf to interact, to get to know each other, and to train for cooperation.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - The "challenges" that the Church faces in the world have "increased" in the Gulf, an area where society is "compartmentalized", spouses or families live "often separated", people are "isolated ” even in “crowded” and “limited” places of worship, ending up “losing orientation”.

In this land, the sense of "uprooting especially for young people" is "strong", where money and worldliness "become the reason and objective" of choices, even the most "intimate", without leaving room "for the will of God, for discernment and to the vocation".

This is what the Apostolic Vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen),Msgr. Paolo Martinelli, underlines in the first pastoral letter focused on "Christian formation", sent to AsiaNews for information. “Faced with observations and faced with challenges - adds the prelate - there is a need" to rethink it "in its form, contents and means".

Titled “'Not slaves, but children': Christian formation for the third millennium, in the context of a multicultural, multilingual and multi-rite migrant Church in the Arab Gulf”, the pastoral letter addresses a theme of extreme importance for the development of the community Christian of Arabia.

The vicar identifies four characteristic elements, which pose particular challenges especially to young people: being multicultural, multilingual and multi-rite; of migrants; inserted in a specific context at a socio-political and religious level; undergoing change in an era projected into the third millennium.

The Church faces epochal changes and, at the same time, must identify characteristics and challenges to provide adequate training, with "means and contents that respond and correspond to the needs of the faithful, especially young people, and of the Church of the Gulf".

This is why, observes Msgr. Martinelli, faith must be transmitted "no longer by convention, but with conviction" communicating "the reasons why one believes". While Christian formation "must move from the transmission of contents and doctrines" to a "living testimony" to explain "the link between faith and life" and capable of "encountering the reality of people [...] thus forming new witnesses. Hence the importance of what the Directory for Catechesis of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization (2020) states according to which "evangelization is the interpretative key of catechesis in all its phases" and the liturgy itself is "a place and means” of training.

An "intercultural" path that allows the different ecclesial realities to interact, get to know and train in collaboration, also through "shared and differentiated paths", with an "inclusive catechetical program of a truly Catholic nature".

In this regard, Msgr. Martinelli hopes for the involvement of "all the realities present in the Church: families, schools, clergy, religious, catechists, lay people, ecclesial associations, different Churches, different generations". Training should also "help each one in his specific role and in his challenges [because] we all need to be continually formed in the faith, children, young people and adults".

There is then a specific passage aimed at young people, who must be trained in a "Christian use" of the "new digital realities" to develop a greater "critical sense" and allowing them "to connect with their questions and their desires". So that, in doing so, Jesus can appear "like a companion of one's desire on a great journey". “The vocation must be present in every step of formation, leading young people to choose their future” states the vicar of Arabia and, with reference to being Christian, it must also “educate a vital sense of belonging”, a “positive feeling of existence”.

“With regards - he adds - the Church's contribution to the good of society, schools are essential. They are part of the mission of the Church, not strictly for catechesis, but as a place where we should work for dialogue between Christian faiths and confessions, for tolerance and respect."

From this perspective he considers "vocation" a "decisive word" for planning one's future. The person is invited "to get to know himself, his limits and his resources, to the point of asking himself very concrete questions".

Finally, Christian education "does not end with the transmission of the contents of the faith", but must generate "a new mentality, a new way of reading history and society in all its aspects". It must "fully assume the cultural dimension of faith", encourage the "search for God (Quaerere Deum)" which "is at the origin of every culture", with Catholic schools and universities which "play an important role in this direction".

“They are a constitutive part of the mission of the Church. Precisely because of the dialogical capacity that it can offer, the school - concludes Mgr. Martinelli - can make an enormous contribution not only to the transmission of faith, and also to social good and coexistence between people of different faiths, promoting interreligious dialogue and a sense of universal human brotherhood".

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