Intervention made by Card. Leonardo SANDRI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches at the Synod on New Evangelization

The summary of the intervention made by Card. Leonardo SANDRI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches during the Twelfth General Congregation of the Synod on New Evangelization held on Monday, 15th October 2012, Afternoon, is given below.

Referring to numbers 74 and 75 of the Instrumentum Laboris, I wish to sincerely thank the Holy Father for having introduced the Eastern Catholic Churches to the Synod on the New Evangelization with the gift of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente and with his unforgettable visit to Lebanon. This document opens by recalling in all their current relevance the four pillars on which the Church has been founded, right from its origins (Acts 2:42): announcing the Word, charity, the Eucharist and the other sacraments, personal and communal prayer (no. 5). The pairing of “communion and witness” that guided the Synod for the Middle East and now constitutes the ecclesial priority, draws strength from the four pillars mentioned: they are also valid for this Synod, since they are essential for any action of evangelization. The Eastern Churches are recognized as “living witnesses of the origins” by the Council itself (cf. OE 1). Blessed John Paul II presented them as the second lung of the one body of Christ and Pope Benedict described them as bearers of authentic Christianity for the whole Church, which looks to the future in security only if it remains anchored to what is “in the beginning”(Jn 1). They cannot renounce the full ecclesial configuration granted to them by the Council (cf. OE 1;24) nor can they renounce the specific mission of the unity of all the disciples of Christ, especially the Eastern ones (ibid), entrusted to them. With the support of the Holy Father and our congregation, they will do their utmost, therefore, to ensure that they are granted everywhere at least the essential formulae of presence and jurisdiction, while they await more suitable ones. The Eastern Churches ask that the full communion cum Petro e sub Petro should never be undervalued for ecumenical or interreligious reasons, which in this way would themselves be disregarded. The long and faithful ecclesial journey, with the flavor of martyrdom that has always distinguished it, ensure they are qualified operators of the new evangelization. In the mother country they are severely tried in their physical well-being and in the exercise of religious freedom. In the new countries they have to prepare themselves for the equally hard trial of the conspicuous eclipse of the sense of God and the confrontation with languages and models that are completely new. But it really is the sons and daughters of the eastern Churches who find themselves being new evangelizers in the metropolitan areas of every continent, there where the Christian communities are so hurt by indifference or even by the effective or explicit abandonment of Christian belonging. I have to mention again the condition, in some cases of persecution and more frequently of migration, in which many Eastern Christians live. And I echo their desire to be thought of and valued not as a minority but as a presence, that of the evangelical yeast that leavens all the dough. It is the quality of the faith, in reality, that amplifies the impetus of the evangelization. The admirable sensitivity of the Holy Father and the Universal Church contribute and will continue to contribute to dispel the real fear that in the future there may be no “living stones” to confess the Gospel there where it began its journey. May the pilgrimage, which especially in the year of faith the Churches will undertake to the sites of our salvation, confirm the spiritual and material charity to increase hope for the Eastern Christians and to receive from their testimony that comfort in that same hope which is indispensable for the new evangelization. With our Eastern brothers, humbly we say to ourselves: we take note of the problems, the divisions, the lack of faith in the Gospel, the mingling sometimes with power and the search for economic security as well. We want therefore to purify the spirit and pastoral action, together with our brothers. Thank you, Latin brothers, for the welcome you extended to the Eastern Catholics as protagonists of the new evangelization. We want them to be fully themselves, with their spiritual, ritual and disciplinary articulation. For the good of everyone the work of the Spirit will burst forth, the only guarantor of full unity in pluriformity. Thank you.

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