The main themes of the assembly: communion of the Church, formation of the faithful and the role of the laity.
Tbilisi (AsiaNews) Communion of the Church, formation of the faithful and the role of the laity are the main themes of the first Synod of the Apostolic Administration of the Latins of the Caucasus, set to open this afternoon in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Assyro-Chaldean community will also attend. The Synod will gather all the priests, representatives of religious communities and 56 lay people from parish communities (84 people in all) for two residential sessions: the first session runs from 4 to 8 September and the second from 5 to 9 November.
The first session of deliberations will be inaugurated today at 5pm with a solemn celebration in St. Mary's Assumption church in Tbilisi.
In November 2005, the Bishop, Fr Giuseppe Pasotto, wrote a pastoral letter, "Synod: Walking together" in which he called the assembly and indicated two directions for debate: saying thank you and looking ahead.
The letter said: "We want to give thanks to the Lord for those missionaries who, in past centuries, preached the gospel and witnessed to charity amid a thousand difficulties. We want to remember all the Georgian priests who accepted the call to become pastors, giving admirable impetus to the life of the community, especially during the times of Communist persecution. We look with gratitude to these people, known and unknown, who even in difficult moments were not afraid to testify to their faith and membership of the Catholic church: with gratitude, we want to bring to the Lord the testimony of all these people, especially women, who transmitted and maintained the Catholic faith in their families when there was a shortage of priests."
"All this has been the basis of the journey of our Church over the past 10 years".
And "even in recent times, problems have not been lacking. Starting again is always difficult but in many, there has been enthusiasm and a spirit of dedication, love for this land and the community living here." The document recalls the many initiatives taken, noting in particular that "in recent years, regular pastoral ministry was started or strengthened in the communities of: St Peter and St Paul in Tbilisi, the Nativity of Mary in Vale, St Joseph in Arali, St Joseph the Worker in Ude, the Queen of the Rosary in Akhalzike, the Sacred Heart in Xisabavra, St. Mary's Assumption in Tbilisi, Jesus King of the Universe in Akhalsceni, of the Holy Spirit in Batumi, Mary Immaculate in Kutaisi, the Holy Family in Gori, Merciful Jesus in Vargavi, Ivlita, Borjomi, Shroma, Osurgheti, Ciatura, Benara, Abastumani, Sanavardo, Mtisziri, Xisabavra in Kakheti region".
Fr Casotto said that beyond serving as a reminder, the Synod must "look ahead", mindful that "the aim of our journey is holiness".
"Ultimately, the primary aim of the Synod is to pray and reflect to see how, together, that is, as a Church, we can attain the fullness of Christian life and perfection of charity. This means taking quite concrete steps. The Synod must lead us to decisions and commitments on problems we must identify and to which we must respond in ways everyone agrees to." To this end, the letter indicated "guidelines we can ask ourselves about". "We are committed to being a Church that listens: we can reflect on the need to listen to the Word, catechesis, laity training and ways to engage in ecumenism. We are committed to being a Church that prays: we can reflect on our liturgy and spiritual initiatives. We are committed to being a Church that acts: we can reflect on our commitment to social issues, culture, politics, family, care for the poor, developing local Caritas and volunteering."