Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 25 - February 1, 1998
Gathered and edited by
Bishop Kamal-Hanna Bathish
Great Jubilee Edition - Jerusalam
Latin Patriarchate Printing Press - Jerusalem
You will be reading:
1- Presentation: by Most Revd Kamal-Hanna Bathish
2- January 25: Homily of the Anglican Bishop, Most Revd Michael Scott-Joynt
3- January 26: Homily of the Catholic Bishop, Most Revd Kamal-Hanna Bathish
4- January 27: Homily of the Lutheran Propst, H.E. Karl-Heinz Ronecker
5- January 28: Homily of the Armenian Father, Revd Shnork Kasparian
6- January 29: Welcome Speech, Revd Fr. Bargil Pixner, O.S.B.
7- January 29: Homily of Revd Fr. Thomas Stransky, Paulist, Tantur Ecumenical Institute
8- January 30: Thoughts of the Coptic, Archbishop Anba Abraham
9- January 30: Homily of the Syrian Orthodox, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem
10- January 31: Speech of the visiting Ethiopian, Bishop Gabriel
11- February 1: Homily of the Greek Melkite Catholic, Patriarchal Vicar Lutfi Laham
12- Common Pastoral Letter (in French) of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in the Middle East
1- A week!... But not just any week!
Latin BishopKamal-Hanna Bathish, Jerusalem
These homilies were not written for publication. They never were! It was not until the fourth day of theWeek of Prayer for Christian Unit was over when the idea of putting them together for common spiritual benefit occurred to me. To my pleasant surprise, a layman who had the same intention at the same time, happened to ask for the texts in front of me. Furthermore, all those with whom I discussed the idea warmly approved it. So I soon went to work.
Since 27 years ago, this week has been celebrated in Jerusalem during the week after January 20 to allow the third Christmas in the area, the Armenian (January 19), to be celebrated with dignity.
Surprisingly, there was a shared feeling that this year it was completely different and unique in its development. Seven months at least had passed since circumstances did not allow a meeting of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem. Actually we began to feel losing our closeness to one another, disappointed and almost going back to our old isolation. Yet, during this week, many people felt that, without any previous coordination and consultation, both the prayers and the homilies were inspired by the same intention, the same thinking and the same spirit. We were wondering, how, through the variety of cultures, education and styles, the preachers were illustrating different aspects of this same reality:
No one questioned the fact that Christian unity was the commonly accepted target... We have prayed for it since so many years, yet it is not there!... It seems that our prayers were neither appropriate nor accompanied by our deep conviction and dispositions... But praise be to the Lord for his free love and great gift of his Spirit of adoption enabling us to cry out: Abba, Father! ... the Spirit who helps us = in our weakness (Rom 8, 15,26).
So it was not in vain that this was the theme commonly chosen this year for our prayer and meditation. In such an atmosphere of warm sympathy, brotherhood and of longing for unity in Christ, we had to conclude and confess that the Spirit of God was still here in Jerusalem within us, praying in us and with us, directing us all to speak one same language expressed through our different human languages, expressions and styles! How could we do it on our own!... The Spirit was surely there! Obviously, 1998 is the year of the Holy Spirit and his sanctifying presence within the Community of Christs disciples!(TMA 44)
Never in my thirty four years attending at this prayer in Jerusalem have I had such an experience shared by as many of my brothers Christian!
Spiritus ubi vult spirat! The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (Jn 3,8). And so was it with the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem during this week...
It was not a mere coincidence that, at the same time, the Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East met in Beirut to prepare their annual meeting. Neither was it only by mens will to have all the Patriarchs, Orthodox and Catholic, together with the highest Heads of the main Protestant communities (a total of 19 Heads of the Churches) of all the Middle East meet in Nicosia-Cyprus (January 23-24, 1998) to study together the Christian presence and future in the Middle East. Presented within the frame of the Middle East Council of Churches, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and in view of the third Millennium, does it not look as a Regional Pan-Christian meeting preparing the way to the World Pan-Christian meeting so much desired by Pope John Paul II? (TMA 55). Really we have to confess Nothing is impossible to God! (Lk 1,37).
During the meeting, many sensitive questions were raised: the unity of the baptism, the unification of the Arabic text for the main common prayers (the Lords Prayer, the Profession of Faith...)and of the date of Easter, the proximity of the Great Jubilee, the serious emigration of Christians and the hard conditions they face in the Middle East, the Status of Jerusalem and the peace in the Holy Land... Most important of all is the spirit of brotherhood that inspired the meeting and that was clearly reflected in the Pastoral Letter issued to all the faithful.
We meet, it says, united in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures and to the Profession of faith of the Apostles and of Nicea-Constantinople, to renew our effort in realising our common vocation to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We are gathered to promote the spirit of communion between our Churches and to strengthen the bonds of cooperation between our children, to help in spreading the spirit of love among them and betweeen them and their other brother citizens, to try to improve their future on the eve of the year 2000, by preparing to celebrate with the Christian world the Great Jubilee, for the 2000th anniversary of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour.
We have an Arabic saying:Sah min stu betiqdi hjtu meaning One hour of His (Gods) hours fulfills all his wills! In only one hour can He realise all what he wants. This week, He showed it in a symbolic way. This was evidently His week!... And not just any week!
Jerusalem, February 2, 1998
+ Kamal-Hanna Bathish,
The Jerusalem Committee for the G.J.
2- Saint Georges Anglican Cathedal
Most Revd Michael Scott-Joynt
Bishop of Winchester (UK)
Sunday, January 25, 1998
Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
All who are moved by the Spirit of God are children of God
In the same way the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness(Rom 8, 14,26)
I bring you greetings from the Diocese of Winchester in England, and from the Church of England.
As you will have gathered from his notices and welcome at the beginning of this Service, the Dean is a marvellous opportunist! So I have the very surprising privilege, here in the Holy Land for the first time, of being with you this evening as your preacher at the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and on the Feast of the Conversion of saint Paul. I am very aware that I have no experience of Christian discipleship, or of Christian leadership, here and in the particular circumstances in which you all serve.
Yesterday morning my wife and I were out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. With us we found a group of Americans, almost all Southern Baptists; there were about 20 of them, and three of us from England; when the boat stopped, the time of reflection and prayer that followed was naturally more in their style and language than in ours. Twenty years ago, I think that that would have jarred with me; yesterday, it seemed entirely natural simply to be worshipping alongside them, welcomed and included among them, and glad to contribute a little at their invitation, we all, I think, valued each other, and received good things before God from each other.
I reflected on that experience, as I prepared for tonight; and then, that it must have been part of the character of pilgrimage from the start, that it has included these abrupt clashes between versions of what we do at home! Often, and from early days, from the texts, these have sadly led to blows and argument! But still more often, and increasingly characteristically, they have led to a fresh discovery of generosity and graciousness, to an enlarging of Christians vision and understanding. And having reflected, as we did together on the boat, on Jesus and His disciples there, I have also gone on to reflect on just what a boat -load He had - their differences and arguments, and His shaping them into effective disciples as a group and as individuals. By His grace, that is where all of us still are, and that is what He is doing still with us.
I am already speaking of the Holy Spirit of God, of the Spirit that makes us children, enabling us to cry Abba, Father; and you will remember that just after the passage read to us this evening, Paul goes on to speak of Gods shaping His own to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the eldest among a large family of brothers and sisters (Rom 8,29); and the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness..
This is the experience of Paul, and of all Christians, how else would we be here today, and together; how very strikingly our Churches, and we ourselves, have experienced this working of the Holy Spirit of God in this century, and especially in these last two generations.
Beneath all who are moved by the Spirit of God are children of Godin saint Pauls understanding is surely the one Baptism; and underlying our worship together this evening is the crucial recognition in principle of each other as fellow Christians through Baptism, even where we cannot yet fully worship together.
There has been, surely a gift of the Spirit, a growing almost everywhere in real graciousness, friendship and hospitality between Christians and Christian Churches; we are growing to value and to delight in each other, and our Faith is being deepened and enriched.
Then there has been the gift, in only too many places not least in the Holy Land, of suffering, serving, witnessing together through difficult times; and the discovery that what we share together is infinitely greater than what still divides us; in the face of an increasingly aggressive secular, materialist culture that surrounds us, and before people of Other Faiths, we have been given to experience each other freshly as fellow Christians.
Then there has been, too, in all our Churches, the challenge to recognise that we are called to be missionaries, that the Faith is to be shared and that it is the responsibility of every Church, and of every Christian, to be an active participant in Our Lords claiming the Fathers world for Him.
And then there has been the Theological insight, that has motivated all our recent formal ecumenical dialogues, that has sought to look behind our entrenched and inherited positions, essentially divided because born out of division, which has enabled us so often to recognise each other freshly as two or more sides of the same coin, rathe than as different currencies.
All these I take as the gifts of one and the same Spirit; but as yet we are only partly obedient, and needing to hear that second text: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.
I cannot speak of your ways here in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land; but I know that at home we can be too busy, too tired, too worn down by the hard work of being the Church and of offering it care and leadership in demanding times, to devote energy to the search for Christian unity or even for consistent work together with other Churches. And then there is a proper faithfulness to our particular inheritances, especially when our Churches, and the Faith itself, are under pressure. And at many points, we simply do not yet see the right ways forward, the right next steps...
But we can, too, be slow to engage in the search for Christian unity, whether at the level of theology or at the level of shared work together, simply out of inertia, or because we are clinging on to influence including political influence or privilege, or on account of tribalisms of many kind.
But the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; our first Reading spoke of Gods leading powerfully with cloud and fire when His people had cause to be afraid (Exodus 13,21); and look what wonders have in fact grown from those arguments on and by the Sea of Galilee, through the power of the Spirit...
So let us tonight praise and thank God together for the one Baptism that we share, and for the Spirits leading us into mutual graciousness; and then into so much else to which I have drawn attention; and let us offer ouselves trustingly for His continuing remaking of us into what He would have us be for His world and for Himself: He ordained that they shoud be shaped to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the eldest among a large family of brothers..
Most Revd Michael Scott-Joynt
Bishop of Winchester (UK)
(on a short pilgrimage to the Holy Land
3- Ecumenical facts and events
Bishop Kamal-Hanna Bathish,
Auxiliary and Vicar General
to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Latin Patriarchate Co-Cathedral - Jerusalem
Monday, January 26, 1998
Feast of Saints Timothy and Titus
Dear brothers and sisters. Let us praise the Lord and rejoice in Him who gathers us in his name, today and during all this week in our many churches of Jerusalem, to pray for unity among his followers.
Ecumenical facts and events
a) On this occasion we do not ask whether I belong to Apollos, you to Paul, and he to Cephas (Cf. 1Cor 3,3-5). We only remember that we all belong to Jesus Christ: For nobody can lay down any other foundation than the one which is there already, namely Jesus Christ(1Cor 3,11), and we come to pray with him for his last and warm desire for unity: Father!... May they all be one as we are one ... With me in them and = you in me, may they so be perfected in unity that the world will recognise that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me. (John 17, 22,23)
b) We suffer for differences between us, yet, we pray looking more at what brings us together in the Lords name, and in his Church. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II tells us in his Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente:
Among the most fervent petitions which the Church makes to the Lord during this important time, as the eve of the new millennium approaches, is that unity among all Christians of the various confessions will increase until they reach full communion. I pray that the Jubilee will be a very promising opportunity for fruitful cooperation in the many areas which unite us; these are unquestionably more numerous than those which divide us (TMA 16). And also: The approaching end of the second millennium demands of everyone an examination of conscience and the promotion of fitting ecumenical initiatives, so that we can celebrate the Great Jubilee, if not completely united, at least much closer to overcoming the divisions of the second millennium(TMA 34).
c) We rejoice in the Lord also for the many other gatherings taking place here in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land, to pray together, to exchange wishes and views about what might bring us together and to experience our togetherness in Christ!
These gatherings reflect the many efforts made in this direction during all of this 20th century. Over the entire world many prayers have been offered to God for this aim, and many people have spent their lives working for it, and even in some cases, dedicated persons offered their life as a sacrifice to God for the realisation of the desire of Jesus Christ, and also of so many of his followers.
We rejoice in the Lord in particular for all the meetings taking place here in the Middle East. In Jerusalem the Churches often meet to talk, to consult, and to decide on many matters of Christian concern. Is it not a blessing from the Lord that all the Churches in the Holy Land feel inspired by the same Spirit of the Lord with its known fruit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5,22), and are determined to prepare and to celebrate solemnly and in common the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ? Such desire is expanding so as to involve all of the Middle East area and even the whole world, including other non-Christian religions and political powers.
With the same spirit, all our Patriarchs, Catholic and Orthodox, with the Heads of Protestant Churches of the area, meet this week, in Cyprus, Nicosia. Their main theme of reflection is: The Christian presence and future in the Middle East. This is why our Patriach, H.B. Michel Sabbah is not present with us today.
Every now and then we hear about such meetings; and who can tell what we might hear and experience still more in the near future?
The Holy Spirit in action
a) Nevertheless we are aware that we are not willing to go so fast on this way. And we wonder whether we are prepared for Our Lord Jesus Christ to take away our selfishness and fears, to inspire in us the love of his only name and glory,to put us together in one communion and reign over us all for the glory of his Father in Heaven!
We feel so weak as not to dare to stand on our feet and walk together along the way to unity. We cannot overcome our own thinking, our feelings and even our own self for the love of Jesus Christ, whose name we confess and whose servants we are as were Apollos and Paul and Cephas.
b) But praise be to the Lord, rich in faithful love (Eph. 2,4): He rescues us with his Holy Spirit: that Spirit who inspired and strengthened Jesus Christ himself to fulfill his Fathers will and his mission of salvation; that same Spirit, the Paraclete, whom Jesus sent from the Father to his apostles and to his Church to teach them everything and remind them all he has said to them (Jn 14,26); that Spirit whom God sends also to us, to live within us, to inspire in us the same feelings as were in Christ, and whose temple we are (1Cor 6,19).
This Spirit is in us the Spirit of adoption enabling us to cry out: Abba, Father! ... and ...the Spirit who helps us in our weekness (Rom 8,15,26).
Cooperation with the Spirit of the Lord
a) The Holy Spirit is surely at work: nothing of that is happening in the Churches today could be done with pure human efforts. The Catholic Church, in preparing for the Great Jubilee, has dedicated this year 1998 to the Holy Spirit. So let us listen to Saint Paul: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal, ready for the day when we shall be set free (Eph 4,30). Who would dare?
b) Let us do our utmost to realise the wish of hundreds of millions of Christians in the world. Let us set an example to the world calling to mind Jesus Christs commandments: You must be therefore perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect(Mt 5,48). In the same way your light must shine in peoples sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven (Mt 5,16).
c) Let us unceasingly pray to God:
you gather the nations to praise your name.
May all who are reborn in baptism
be one in faith and love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for Thursday of Octave of Easter)
Auxiliary and Vicar General
to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
4- Propst Karl-Heinz Ronecker
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer,
Tuesday, January 27, 1998
When starting to prepare the sermon for this afternoon I got a text into my hand. Somebody wrote about his experience with prayer:
When I was a child I thought prayer was something very nice. In the evenings my mother would sit by my bedside. She would talk to me. She would say a prayer and sing to me. Later, I said a prayer myself and felt peaceful.
Then I heard adults pray. For instance for the hungry in the world. I asked myself: Can this nourish them? Or they prayed for the lonely. I asked myself: Is this enough? Does it make up for a visit?
With the years I gave up praying. I was no longer afraid when I had to go down into the dark cellar. And for the hungry I preferred to donate some money.
What is prayer?
Are sentences like these a hint that the writer has no idea of what praying means? Can one read such sentences and put them aside? Or do they not rather mark a crucial point? For is it not so that our prayers are very much connected with our wishes and needs? Perhaps every now and then with thanks, yes - or with bitterness, if things did not turn out the way we would have liked them to.
Praying, however, is more. This is what the Apostle says in the passage which we heard: For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a spirit of sonship. And by him we cry Abba, Father.For the Apostle prayer is not an artificial limp for our weakness, not a crutch for fearful moments. Prayer is rather a natural life-full expression of Gods sons and daughters. God has made his decision for us, his children. He has come close unto us that we can hear him, that we can grasp him in Jesus of Nazareth. And since he has talked to us and has given us his word, we can also talk to him. Since he has accepted us, we must not be afraid to unburden ouserlves in front of him.
On the one hand it is a good thing that during this week we do not only think about Christian unity, but also pray for it. By doing so we admit that we are sons and daughters of God and so belong to his family. On the other hand the scandal of our disunion becomes more obvious than usual. It is always unpleasant if there are quarrels and struggles in a family. But it is unbearable if this is so in Gods own family. If we bring our disunion before God in our prayers we cannot but be ashamed. And we admit at the same time that we cannot gain unity out of ourselves. Even in our prayers we lack the right words.
The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans!...
Therefore it can help what the Apostle writes in his letter: The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.This means: Dont be afraid. He, who knows your hearts, does not need well-worded prayers. He knows what you want to say even if you only stammer and stutter. It is essential that we point at this again and again, so that everybody may remember: God does not need polished phrases. We may talk to him as the words come out of our hearts. Even at times when we are frightened or full of sorrow and can only sob, he listens and understands. And if we stammer , Lord!or good heaven!or whatever our phrases may be - he can divert them into envelopes for our unspoken grieve. A short and fervent prayer may have stronger wings than carefully elaborated liturgy. For it is the Spirit which counts and transports our prayers to Gods heart.
What the Apostle has pointed out here makes us free. Yet he goes one step further: If it is possible that the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express, this also means that God has a good memory. In his dialogue with himself we, his children, are one of the topics. The Holy Spirit, His Spirit, represents us. And this has been so from the very beginning.
God is our loving Father
It is not a quick idea that we are of importance to God and that he listens to us like a father to his grown-up son or a mother to her stammering child. It is not that out of a sudden inspiration he feels sorry for us. His plan to save us has deep roots. They go into Gods heart.
Jesus Christ stands up for us, because he promised that nothing can separate us from his love. This is - I say it again - why we need not be full of fear, and contempt towards ourselves. Jesus is at our side, and with his love he wants to reflect on our lives, so that through this influence we may assimilate and grow more and more to his likeness. And in the same way as he has pointed out to us ... whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me it is also true that he wants to approach us in our sisters and brothers.
Let me summarise what I have tried to say:
Firstly: When during this week of ecumenical prayer we meet in different churches the main aspect is not our joy in connection with the variations in liturgy and theology - the centre of importance is that we may discover Christs foot-prints in each of them. Their riches is indeed a matter of amazement and wonder.
Secondly: Prayers are a natural expression of Gods children. Since we are at times unable to find adequate words God helps us through Jesus his Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to trust him. Jesus, we have heard, is at our side and wants to influence us so that we follow his example and grow to his likeness and discover him in each other.
Finally, however, I have to point out that we should pray fervently, yes, but also invest all we can to let come true what we pray for. This includes our prayer for the unity of the Christian churches. Our prayer has two directions - to God and to ourselves. We are under the obligation - not only during this week - to be open for one another and full of love.
Propst Karl-Heinz Ronecker
Propst of the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem
5-Father Shnork Kasparian
Saint James Armenian Cathedral
Wednesday, January 28, 1998
The world wide prayer for Christian Unity this year has its central theme focused from St Pauls letter to the Romans, for the Spirit helps our weakness.
We must acknowledge that this annual function has become a traditional event. So many of us for the past few decades have attended such ecumenical Services. Some of us have participated regularly or have been deeply involved, and most of us look forward to these ecumenical gatherings because there is something appealing and captivating when Christians come together, we experience the foretaste of the Unity of the church when in unison each prays in his own language the Our Father. Also to hear pastors from different churches pray; different languages sing and praise to the same and one Lord. How good and pleasant it is for brethren to be together in unity. (Ps 133,1) Yes, these ecumenical functions should remind us of our need for the vivifying Spirit of God for He alone is the fountain of Life, and the Giver of Life. It is none other but Him who prays through Christ our Lord in unity of the Most Holy Trinity, that they all may be one. (Jn 17,21.)
Two thousand years have passed since this prayer was uttered from the mouth of Jesus and the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church has experienced many turmoils and turbulances, deep waters and fierce fiery blazes have threatened the existence of the Body of Christ. Nevertheless the powers of hell have not and will never prevail for the Spirit helps the weakness of the Church.
At each ecumenical Service we echo and elaborate on the words of our Saviour that they all may be one. The exigency and the importance of this petition can be understood only when we realize the hour this prayer was uttered. It was the night when Jesus was going to be arrested, the most critical moment of His earthy life; when - as the common way of saying would be, He had reached at the end of his rope. He has a burden on his heart, indeed a heart rending pain as He sees the disunity of Christians. He is sweating blood. He is wrestling in prayer with an agonizing torment. Under such circumstances His hearts desire is to see His faithful followers not to dispute and divide His Divinity and Humanity but rather be united on the love of God which is manifested in the indivisible person of Christ. In fact, we should examine our conscience to find how far we are from the Christian maturity so as to suffer for our Christian disunity, our lack of neighbourly love which is the expression of the true love towards our Lord. If you are my disciples love one another, said our Saviour.
Lord send your Spirit to help our weakness of lukewarmness and apathy, our sin of indifference and complacency.
Yes, we are comfortable and restful so what do we have to bother for, or why shake the boat. What if the Lord would pass by us as he did by the pool of Bethesda and His glance was focalized on a paralytic who was lying there for thirty eight years, placid and adjusted the way he was; probably he had forgotten why he had come at the pool in the first place. So Jesus asks him challenging question: Do you want to be healed?Of course, that is why everyone comes to Bethesda, the pool with healing water; what kind of a question is that? This is a reprimand for those of us who are involved in ecumenism; Do you really want unity?
Well, what can I doI cant help it; others are quick, I am slow to move, I have no one to help me; no body gives me a chance, they ignore me, they are selfish; so I miss my turn everytime and here I am 38 long years still waiting. So are we, we have been repeating the Lords prayer for two thousand years over and over again, and we are very rhetoric and articulate with excuses. Well, says the Lord, try this one: Get up! Stand on your feet, pick up your mattress and walk.
Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour Divine! Only say the word and we shall be healed.
It is a fact that we cannot do much, it isnt all in our hands. But it is given to us the most powerful means which is also so simple. It is given to us word by word Come, Lord Jesus! the best prayer ever. The most powerful weapon; a name above all names, JESUS! Yes, Lord =Jesus, come in our midst, heal our division and disunity. May we not be like the inquisitor described by Dostoyevsky in the Brothers Karamazof, when the Cardinal is disturbed because Jesus has returned, so he has him =arrested and thrown in prison; then with a troubled conscience goes to the prison cell and obnoxiously looking right to His face, tells the Saviour: Why did you come Jesus? Go back! We dont need you; we are comfortable the way we are; we have made our own version of the Gospel, and the people are happier the way we have interpreted in order to suit them. Do not disturb us, we like it this way, we don't need you, leave us alone Jesus, go back! Why did you come?
But Jesus still has pity on us as He had upon this poor Cardinal who didn't realize how miserable he was for not recognizing his Saviours immense love. In response Jesus, therefore, keeps silence, but gives hime one more chance to express His divine love and patience with a kiss of peace in order to soften the old mans calloused heart.
Today, Jesus is still praying: Father, that they may all be one, and the Spirit continues to help our weakness, ortherwise we wouldn't be able to have these ecumenical Prayer Services. As we are gathered in His Holy Name this evening, may we see Him amongst us. May be He is next to you; on your right or left side, holding a candle and unassumingly praying with all of us: Father, that they all may be one.
Lord, we ask your forgiveness for our sins of disunity and indifference. Help us to welcome you among us. Come Lord Jesus! Abide with us. Bind us together with your love and in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Father Shnork Kasparian
6- Cenacle Prayer for Christian Unity
Fr. Bargil Pixner, O.S.B.,
Mount Sion, January 29, 1998
Reverend representatives of the various Jerusalem Churches, dear Christian sisters and brothers in the Lord!
It is again my duty to welcome you and to introduce you to this unique interdenominational service in this venerable hall of the Cenacle. I have done this in a similar fashion for these past twenty-five years or so, so let me to-day introduce a new thought.
I am coming to think, whether this phenomenon of initial unity, then separation and finally reuniting could not be the way God deals with his people?
Was it not already the case with Israel, the ancient people of God? After King David had united the twelve tribes to form one nation and his son Solomon had build the temple of Jerusalem as symbol of unity, that unity fell apart under his son and the tribes separated into a northern and a southern kingdom. It took the Assyrian and the Babylonian exile and the return from it and finally the Makkabean uprising to unite them again into one nation.
Was this not also the case in Jesus own life? Two families were close to him. There was his natural family of Nazareth, in which he grew up: his mother, his brothers and sisters; and there was that other family of Capharnaum, where he had gathered the twelve apostles around him. There was a real separation of interest between Nazareth and Capharnaum, and when reading the gospels we sense that during the public life of Jesus there was an unmistakable tension between both families. In Johns gospel it is even said: His brothers did not believe in him(John 7: 4). Jesus must have suffered under this painful, but necessary separation. When hanging on the cross he saw the two representatives of his two families, his mother and the disciple he loved, standing at his feet, he reconciled them, See, here is your mother; see, here is your son. As a fruit of his supreme sacrifice it is said that the disciple took her into his own. And indeed: the Acts of the Apostles tell us that it was here in this room that the two families were united again: After the departure of Jesus from the Mt. of Olives the apostles came up to this Upper Room together with Mary and the brothers of Jesus to pray together for the Holy Spirit to come. After Pentecost both families formed the foundation of the church: while the Twelve went into the whole world to spread the good news, Mary and Jesus brothers stayed here in Jerusalem and formed the back-bone of the Church from the Jews.
Brothers and sisters! Here we are again today, representing most of the Christian churches around the world. During the first millennium of Christianity we were united, the last thousand years we have been falling apart into different groups and believes; we know, it was because of our human failure and pride. Now at the end of this second millennium we have become aware that we acted against the express will of Christ. Slowly we are learning to overcome the trend to see only our own church and are endeavouring to widen our minds and hearts, as the Propst had admonished us the other evening, so to realise the traces of Christ in our sister churches as well.
Do we see the dawn of unity appearing over the horizon of the third millennium? The twelve tribes of Israel were finally united again, the two families around Jesus became one. This gives us hope that the Christian Church, that was united for one thousand years and since then was split up into many factions, will in the third millennium become one again. We are gathered here to pray that the Spirit of God may bring this about in His own way and in His own time. I thank you!
Fr. Bargil Pixner, O.S.B.,
7- Cenacle Prayer for Christian Unity
Fr. Thomas Stransky, Paulist,
Rector of Tantur Ecumenical Institut
Mount Sion, January 29, 1998
Sisters and Brothers,
I propose three questions: Who are we here? Why are we here? And, Why =are we here?
1. Who are we?
I look around and can recognize Arabs and Poles, Egyptians and Australians, Russians and Indians, Americans, Germans, and Armenians, Ethiopians and French, Syrians and Italians and Nigerians, Chinese and =British, Palestinians and Jews. The passport list of the We is longer.
2. Why are we here?
Because on this Mt Sion, the first disciples of Jesus once gathered here in doubt, fear and timidity; then on Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, they left the closed room with bold conviction, joyful hope, and contagious love. They became witnesses of the Lord and Saviour, first in Jerusalem, then throughout Judea and Samaria, indeed to all the nations(Lk 24,47). The Spirit of God knows no borders and is poured out upon all humankind (Joel 3,1). Over the centuries succeeding disciples left closed rooms of culture and geography. By word and deed they elicited in others the same faith, hope and love in the same Risen Lord, and new local communities arose and flourished.
Fellow disciples of Christ, you and I are gathered in Jerusalem this afternoon because others scattered from Jerusalem. The many nations and local christian communities we represent are thanks to others - missionaries, parents and friends, catechists, preachers and teachers, dead and alive. The geneology of christian faith, of each and all of us, stretches back to the Pentecost disciples on this Mt Sion. The Mother Church became the Mother of all churches.
3. No one on that geneology list was, or is, without weaknesses, without sin. But where sin abounds, grace does more abound (Rom 5,20). Indeed, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses (Rom 8,27).
Recall that according to St. Lukes account, on the northern shores of the Lake of Galilee, Christ called Simon Peter to be His disciple not when Peter was typically boasting of his invincible fidelity and was proposing better master plans for Christ, but precisely when the frightened fisherman was on his knees, honestly confessing, Lord, I am a sinful man (Lk 5, 8-11). In the confession of weakness, the Spirit was active, and Peter was chosen.
Furthermore, Peter and the other first disciples were not the best persons according to human standards of innate greatness and leadership, but in being chosen, Christ called them to be their best and to do their best.
So also are we disciples called. Perhaps as at Cana only water we have, but we fill the witness-jars to the brim (Jn 2,7). Or as on the shore of Tiberias, we are only but five barley loaves and two dried fish (Jn 6,9). But we bring all that we are and have to Jesus. In the Spirit who helps us in our weaknesses, the water blushes into wine, the five thousand are fed.
4. Why are we here?
Because in grateful prayer we want to express that unity in Christ and the Spirit which we already share because of the undeserved gifts God has bestowed on us; and before the same merciful God, to express our repentance for our inabilities and indifferences to manifest fully that unity. Yes, we rejoice in our unity-in-diversity, a God-given unity deeper than our human-created divisions. Yes, we are saddened by those isolations of self-interest within our fractured Mother Church that hinder our common witness of the Good News of reconciliation with God, and with ourselves, and with our Jewish and Muslim neighbours.
St. Paul begs us to do nothing that will grieve or sadden the Spirit: by harsh words, slander, malice. We are to say and do only what will really help each other, to have no other ambition except to do good (Titus 2,14). We are to be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ (Eph 4, = 29-31).
Impossible? The Holy Spirit uses even our sinful and finite imperfections in the service of the Sons Church. In the admission of our weaknesses, in our mutual foregiveness and in our confession of Gods compassion and power rests our shared discipleship.
5. Why are we here?
Primarily, to pray that the Mother Church of Jerusalem be the ikon of the one household of God (Eph 2,19), the community of the Reconciled and Reconciling (2Cor 5,20), which will prompt also our Muslim and Jewish neighbours to exclaim: See how those Christians love one another, and See how they selflessly love us who are not Christians.
Indeed the reconciliation of all Christians in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ is a holy objective which transcends all our human powers and gifts, our finite plans and limited visions. Again St. Paul: Hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance (Rom 8,25). And so, we place our patient hope - itself a divine gift, entirely in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. This hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us(Rom 5,5). The Spirit intercedes for the saints of God as God wills (Rom 8,27).
6. This Holy but troubled Land is cursed with too many angry tears of conflict, and not blessed enough with quiet smiles of secure peace. Our discipleship is not peace-talking but peace-making (Mt 5,9). We dare not pray for the present so fragile peace process among the nations and peoples of the Middle East, especially among Israelis and Palestinians, unless at the same time we pray and labour for the peace process among the Christians and churches of this Land, called to foster through common witness, in St. Pauls words, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4,5). Furthermore, as daughters and sons of God who are led by the Spirit of God(Rom = 8,14), we Christians pray to do the truth in charity (Eph 4,15), with the Jews and Muslims of this same Land, and to be obedient in word and deed, to Gods common call to Abraham: to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just (Gen 18,19).
Fr. Thomas Stransky, Paulist,
Rector of Tantur Ecumenical Institut
8- St Antonys Coptic Orthodox Church
Dr. Anba Abraham,
Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan
Coptic and Syrian ChurchesService
Friday, January 30, 1998
St Antony the Great Day
For in hope we were saved (Rom 8,24)
The greatness of the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven stirs in our hearts spiritual longing which draws us to it in the midst of troubles and cares of this mortal life. The hope for heaven in its glory is the only outlet that God has provided for us to be rescued from the trap of pressure of this present world.
Hope paved our hearts and thoughts for the joyous tidings of salvation that Jesus has accomplished on the cross for our sake. With His Resurrection He raised us with Him giving us the triumph over death which reigned over us.
How great hope is as it enables us overcome our weakness, desires and both internal and external tresspasses.
Our righteous fathers lived on the hope of salvation which has been achieved in due time. They havent perceived the fulfillment of promises in their own days. But with hope they lived expecting its perception.
When these promises have been fulfilled through salvation which Jesus Christ has granted us on the cross, He descended and took all the dormants on hope where they live with Jesus Christ in Paradise.
With hope, we expect Jesus Christ to take us with Him to live in Heaven, as He said In my Fathers House are many mansions(Jn 14,2). He also said, I will come back and take you to be with me that, you also may be where I am(Jn 14,4). Saint Paul the Apostle makes it clear when he says, We who are alive will be caught up together with Him (Thess 4,17). Also, I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people (Heb 8,10). He assured this to us saying, Surely, I come quickly.
Amen. Even, so come Lord Jesus (Rev. 22,20).
Dr. Anba Abraham,
Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan
9- St Antonys Coptic Orthodox Church
Mar Sewerios Malki Murad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar
Coptic and Syrian Churches Service
Friday, January 30, 1998
We thank God, blessed be His name, who gathered us in this meeting together. We thank also H. Exc. Most Revd brother Dr. Anba Abraham who gave us this opportunity to address a few words which flow out from our heart to our brothers hearts.
How beautiful is this meeting which gathers a group of good Holy Church children in Jerusalem! May God bless all those gathered here and let them become the yeast that leavens the flour all through, so that they may grow in number every day, until we can see with our own eyes unity, cooperation and love reigning among the various churches and believers.
Dear beloved: the Lord Jesus Christ was born and crucified, He died and was risen from the dead to bring us close to His heavenly Father, and to reconcile the inhabitants of earth with heaven. Therefore, we have to work hard to fulfill Christs aim: that all should be one, as well as to appreciate our Lord Jesus Christs work, according to St. Paul who said, We shall certainly not go unpunished if we neglect such a great salvation(Heb. 2: 3). Let us work strongly with Christ and lead the believers to his heavenly Kingdom, otherwise the punishment will be hard. It is the responsibility of the Heads of Church and of the Christian clergy to pave the way for love and unity, and to prepare the believers spiritually and socially to such an important event for Christianity.
Strangers, such as the centurion during the crucifixion, have recognised the Lord Jesus Christ as just and Son of God; so more we have to improve our faith in Christ and accompany it by good deeds that help to unite the believers hearts and minds so as to reach the unity of spirit.
We should feel and sympathise with our believers here in the East: they feel ashamed in front of the strangers, the Moslems and the Jews regarding differences in our religious celebrations: we celebrate many Christmases, many Easters... and that takes our Christians away from the Church and from God. So, by avoiding unity we put obstacles to Christs work and to Gods Kingdom, and we ourselves scandalise and hurt our believers as well. The first man has actually created obstacles by his sin, but our Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven, removed the fence separating man and God, reconciled us with his heavenly Father and so united heaven and earth. Therefore, following our Lord Jesus Christ we should reconcile all the Christians, inspire them love, peace and = reconciliation, and lead them to Christs fold, because: Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather in with me throws away (Mat 12,30).
Mar Sewerios Malki Murad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar
10- Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Ethiopia Street - Jerusalem
Saturday January 31, 1998
N.B.: The prayer was presided by the visiting Ethiopian Bishop Gabriel.
The atmosphere was very warm and friendly, and the prayer was conducted with the same spirit as in the other Churches.
We are sorry because we could not have the text of the Bishops short address which was not written.
11- Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Lutfi Laham
Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar
Sunday, February 1, 1998
* We are approaching the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. On April 26 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of the church in which we are gathered. Jubilees remind us of the meaning of time. God works in time. He entered into historical time, and sanctifies time in our lives. We are redeemed in time.
* Tomorrow is the Feast of the Entry (or Presentation) of Jesus in the Temple, or Eupapande in Greek, which means meeting. This feast, as we see in the icon at the side of the church, celebrates the meeting of God and man, and of man with his fellow man. Ecumenical work is based on meetings. We find joy in the meetings for prayer this week, and in those of the Heads of Churches (the next of which will take place on February 3). We are happy to see that our Patriarchate is active in promoting such meetings: already in 1975 we established the Centre for Christian Catechists, which later became the St. Cyril of Bethlehem University; our Eastern Churches Centre serves to make known all the oriental Churches of Jerusalem, and in Lent will offer a series of five lectures about our Greek Catholic Church; our polyglot Oriental Bookstore publicises all eastern traditions; I began to organise meetings for heads of the Churches in 1983, which were later followed by the foundation of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops and of the regular meetings of all Heads of Churches of Jerusalem.
* The greatest ecumenical initiative of our Church is the one taken in 1996 to unify the two branches, Catholic and Orthodox, of the Patriarchate of Antioch. The two Patriarchs, Ignatios IV and Maximos V, recently wrote a common Christmas message to all their faithful.
* We call upon our brothers, the Heads of the Churches, to think seriously of launching a prophetic, ecumenical initiative on the occasion of the Great Jubilee. We propose some points for this initiative:
a) a declaration of mutual respect among Churches, and of our decision to refrain from accepting any member of another Church in our own Church;
b) a declaration of coordination of pastoral work, especially of work with youth, e.g. scouts, youth being the future of our Church of Jerusalem;
c) a widening of the institution Caritas, till now Catholic, to include all Christian communities, and to make it a common centre to preserve the Christian presence in Jerusalem and the Holy Land;
d) the foundation of a common fund to support housing projects and small development projects for all Christians.
* The Holy Spirit will lead us to all truth, as Jesus promised. He sends us an advocate who intercedes for us to fulfill the prayer of the Lord that they all may be one.
+Archbishop Lutfi Laham
Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar
12- Lettre Pastorale
Commune Adresse par les
Patriarches et Chefs des Eglises du Moyen Orient
Lors de leur rencontre en Nicosie, Chypre
le 23-24 janvier 1998
(We regret that the English version is not ready yet) Le text Francais manque d'accent, parcequ'on a utilise an American system.
Freres et Fils bien-aimes
1. Nous remercions Dieu qui nous a permis de nous reunir pour la deuxieme fois, apres 1985, nous, les chefs des Eglises des quatre familles: Orthodoxe, Orthodoxe Orientale, Catholique et Evangelique, durant la semaine de priere pour l'unite des chretiens, et dans le cadre du Conseil des Eglises du Moyen Orient, dans la residence de Sa Beatitude l'Archeveque Chrysostomos, Archeveque de Nicosie, capitale de Chypre.
2. Nous nous retrouvons, unis par la foi en Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ, Dieu et Sauveur selon les Ecritures, et selon le Symbole des Apotres et du concile de Nicee-Constantinople, afin de renouveler notre effort et realiser notre vocation commune, pour la gloire de Dieu Un, Pere, Fils et Saint-Esprit.
3. Ensemble, nous voulons raffermir l'esprit de communion entre nos Eglises, renforcer les liens de collaboration entre nos fideles a contribuer et a repandre l'esprit d'amour entre eux, et avec tous leurs freres et concitoyens, et essayer de prevoir l'avenir qui se dessine avec l'approche de l'an 2000.
Nous nous preparons en effet a celeebrer avec le monde chretien le Grand Jubilee, le deuxi=E8me millinaire de la venue de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ, Redempteur et Sauveur. A cette occasion, nous tournons nos regards vers la Terre Sainte et son peuple, afin de lui exprimer a nouveau notre solidarite, d'insister sur la saintete et le caractere special de la ville de Jerusalem, et d'attirer l'attention de toutes les Eglises et de la communaute internationale sur les dangers qui la menacent et qui menacent en meme temps la paix du monde.
4. Nul d'entre nous n'ignore que la presence chretienne en cette region, dans cette terre de Dieu, remonte a l'Epoque de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ: sur cette terre benie il est ne, il y a vecu, il y est mort et ressuscite. Il y a fonde son Eglise et d'elle s'est repandue la lumiere de l'Evangile dans le monde entier, en Orient et en Occident.
5. Sur cette terre naquirent les anciennes Eglises, avec leur histoire, leurs traditions, leurs liturgies, leurs martyrs, leurs saints et leurs savants, dont les Ecrits et les ouvrages enrichirent la culture chretienne et humaine et restent aujourd'hui des sources precieuses pour tous ceux qui veulent mediter les valeurs Evangeliques qu'ils ont vecues et pour lesquels ils sont morts.
6. Qui peut oublier Jerusalem d'ou partit l'Eglise apres la descente du Saint Esprit, Antioche ou les chretiens recurent leur nom de chretiens, Alexandrie et la predication de saint Marc, Chypre et les villes de l'Asie Mineure parcourues par saint Paul et auxquelles il adressa ses lettres, tresor precieux de la chretiente? Dieu a permis que certains de ces pays deviennent ce qu'ils sont aujourd'hui. Il est le maitre de l'histoire et le Seigneur des destins. Quant a nous, nous devons bien lire ce que le Seigneur ecrit, car il peut ecrire droit avec des lignes courbes.
7. Nous sommes reunis aujourd'hui afin de reflechir ensemble et nous interroger devant Dieu, devant notre conscience et devant vous, si vous et nous, nous sommes restes fideles a la mission de l'Eglise confie par Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ a nous tous, malgre la difference de nos appartenances. Tous, nous croyons que le Christ est le meme, Dieu et homme, Seigneur et Redempteur, Pasteur et Guide dans les voies tortueuses et dans les tenebres de la vie, surtout en ces jours. Nous voyons en effet plusieurs de nos enfants prives de leurs droits humains fondamentaux, pousses vers l'Emigration, qui devient une plaie ouverte et un danger menacant, tel l'exemple du Sud-Est de la Turquie. Nous voyons un nombre croissant de nos enfants, en plus d'un pays, partir vers l'Occident, pensant pouvoir realiser d'une facon meilleure et y trouver un avenir plus sur pour leurs enfants. Nous ne vous cachons pas que ce fait nous cause une grande peine, car nous croyons fermement que Jesus-Christ nous a envoyes afin de porter ensemble, vous et nous, une mission pour cet Orient: le temoignage des valeurs Evangeliques.
8. Or il est difficile, sinon impossible, de porter cette mission si =nous ne donnons pas un exemple vivant du raffermissement des liens de l'amour et de la collaboration entre nous. Tous, nous portons la responsabilite du d'Esprit confie a nous par le Seigneur Jesus-Christ: le depot de la foi, source d'esperance et d'amour: Maintenant donc demeurent foi, esperance, charite, ces trois choses, mais la plus grande d'entre elles, c'est la charite (1 Cor 13,13). Les paroles de l'apotre ne sont par ailleurs que l'echo de celles du Seigneur Jesus-Christ qui fit de l'amour le signe distinctif des chretiens: Je vous donne un commandement nouveau: vous aimer les uns les autres; comme je vous ai aimes, aimez-vous les uns les autres. A ceci tous reconnaitront que vous etes mes disciples, si vous avez de l'mour les uns pour les autres(Jn 13, 34-35). L'amour seul peut nous mener a l'unite tant desiree, et pour laquelle pria le Seigneur Jesus-Christ: Pere saint, garde-les dans ton nom que tu m'as donne, pourqu'ils soient un comme nous(Jn 17,11)
9. L'on pourrait dire: que pouvons-nous faire, alors que notre nombre ne cesse de diminuer chaque jour, que les possibilites de la mission deviennent de plus en plus limitees, et que les moyens d'action se rarefient? Cela est vrai. Mais la mission que nous a confiee le Seigneur Jesus-Christ, nous ne la portons pas seulement par les moyens humains. Ce n'est pas cela qui est requis. Ce qui est requis c'est de vivre les preceptes de notre foi, d'etre ce que Dieu a voulu que nous soyons, le sel qui donne le gout a la nourriture (Mt 5,13), le chandelier qui eclaire tous ceux qui sont dans la maison (Mt 5,15) et le levain qui fermente toute la pate (Mt 13,33). Les apotres qui Evangeliserent le monde connu en leur temps n'etaient que douze. Ils proclamerent tout ce que le Christ leur ordonna d'enseigner: la liberte, la justice, l'Egalite, la distribution equitable pour tous, et le respect des droits de l'homme, sans preference pour un systeme a l'exclusion de l'autre, et sans l'appui d'un parti au detriment de l'autre, a pourvu que tous gouvernent selon la justice et l'equite.
10. Les chretiens font face aujourd'hui a des difficultes mutliples. Pour cette raison, ils s'eloignent de la participation active dans la vie publique et les sentiments de peur et d'angoisse ne cessent d'augmenter. Cette prise de conscience des difficultes et des craintes n'est pas le propre des seuls chretiens. De nombreux musulmans ont conscience eux aussi que l'angoisse des chretiens face a leur avenir concerne toute la societe et tous ses citoyens. Ceci nous impose une double responsabilite: encourager les chretiens a participer a la vie publique et activer la collaboration entre chretiens et musulmans, afin de construire une societe basee sur le respect de la diversite, l'assurance d'une egalite entiere entre les citoyens, la sauvegarde des libertes et la defense de la dignite de l'homme et de ses droits.
11. Malgre les difficultes qui mettent a lepreuve l'existence des chretiens et leur temoignage, nous encourageons nos fideles a rester fermes dans la foi et forts dans l'esperance qui leur a ete donnee par le Seigneur Jesus-Christ. Ceci requiert de notre part realisme, sagesse et objectivite. Ceci veut dire aussi qu'il faut eviter les exces, la peur et ne pas grossir les difficultes..
12. Toutefois cela ne signifie pas non plus que nous voulons minimiser la gravite de la situation et la necessite de la regarder en face et sans detour. Mais cela exige de nous aussi plus de partage et de solidarite dans l'exploitation de nos forces intellectuelles et materielles dans tous les domaines: culture, education, domaine social et economique; et, de meme lorsqu'il sagit d'activerle role des chretiens dans le service de la societe.
13. Nous vous saluons avec l'amour du Seigneur Jesus et nous vous disons: affermissez votre foi en Dieu. Il est la Providence et vos cheveux memes sont tous comptes (Lc 12,7). Affermissez les liens d'amour et de collaboration entre vous, car ce n'est pas un esprit de crainte que Dieu nous a donne, mais un esprit de force, d'amour et de maitrise de soi (2 Tim 1,7). Soyez dans votre milieu des semeurs de concorde, de fraternite et de paix. Saint Paul nous predit des temps difficiles, dans lesquels les hommes seront egoistes, cupides, vantards, orgueilleux, diffamateurs... (2 Tim = 3,2). Mais il nous dit aussi: Je vous exhorte donc, moi le prisonnier dans le Seigneur, mener une vie digne de l'appel que vous avez recu: en toute humilite, douceur et patience, supportez-vous les uns les autres avec charite; appliquez vous a conserver l' unit de l'Esprit par ce lien qu'est la paix. Il n' y a qu'un corps et qu'un Esprit, comme il n'y a qu'une esperance au terme de l'appel que vous avez recu; un seul Seigneur, une seule foi, un seul bapteme; un seul Dieu et Pere de tous, qui est au-dessus de tous, par tous et en tous(Eph 4,1-6).
14. Avant de terminer notre message, nous voulons affirmer encore une fois notre solidarite totale avec nos peuples, avec leurs souffrances et leur quete de justice, surtout au coeur de l'epreuve causee par l'occupation Israelienne en Palestine, au Liban, en Syrie et par l'occupation Turque a Chypre. Il est de notre devoir aussi de nous arraiter devant la situation tragique du peuple iraqien, due a l'embargo injuste et injustifiable, qui porte de graves dommages aux civils, en premier lieu aux enfants, aux vieillards et aux malades. Nous invitons les Eglises dans le monde a exprimer leur solidarite avec le peuple de l'Iraq et son droit a une vie digne.
15. Freres et fils bien-aimes,
Soyons une communaute vivante de l'amour evangelique, qui ne connait pas de limites. Qu'il remplisse nos coeurs et nous donne le courage pour la defense du droit. Et que la grace de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ, l'amour de Dieu le Pere et la communion de l'Esprit-Saint soient avec nous tous.
Nicosie, 24 janvier 1998
Ignace IV Hazim, Patriarche d'Antioche et de tout l'Orient pour les Grecs Orhtodoxes
Petros VII Papapetrou, Patriarche d'Alexandrie et de toute l'Afrique pour les Grecs Orthodoxes
Diodoros I, Patriarche de Jerusalem, represente par le meropolite Timothee
Chrysostomos, Archeveque de Chypre
Chrysanthos, Eveque de Limassol
Shenoudah III, Patriarche d'Alexandrie pour les Coptes Orthodoxes
Ignace Zakka I Iwas, Patriarche d'Antioche et de tout l'Orient pour les Syriens Orthodoxes
Aram I Kesheshian, Catholicos de Cilicie pour les Armeniens Orthodoxes
Stefanos II Ghattas, Patriarche d'Alexandrie pour les Coptes Catholiques
Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarche d'Antioche et de tout l'Orient pour les Maronites
Maximos V Hakim, Patriarche d'Antioche pour les Grecs Catholiques, represente par l'Archeveque Kyrillos Boustros de Baalbek et par l'Archeveque Ilarion Kabbouji
Ignace Antoine II Hayek, Patriarche d'Antioche pour les Syriens Catholiques, represente par l'Archeveque Elie Tabe
Rafael I Bidawid, Patriarche de Babylone pour les Chaldeens
Jean-Pierre XVIII Kasparian, Patriarche de Cilicie pour les Armeniens Catholiques
Michel Sabbah, Patriarche de Jerusalem pour les Latins
Selim Sahyouni, President du Conseil des Eglises Evangeliques de Syrie et du Liban
Ghayes AbdelMalek Barsoum, Eveque President de l'Eglise Anglicane du Moyn Orient
Safwat Bayyadi, president du Conseil des Eglises Evangeliques d'Egypte
Munib Younan, Eveque de l'Eglise Lutherienne du Moyen Orient
Riyad Jarjour, Pasteur, Secretaire General du Conseil des Eglises du Moyen Orient