Walking on the way, we listen to one another and learn more about the lives of those around us. This must make us more sensitive also to the struggle for justice, the promotion of equality and the combat for peace.
During this synodal process, we want to encourage all to become more aware of the lives of those among us, in our church communities, in our neighborhoods and in our society who are affected by the lack of justice, inequality and ongoing violence in all its forms. Although our churches are oases where we come to find consolation, quiet and calm, they must also be places in which people can express their pain, their frustration and their dreams for a better future. Let us make every effort to listen to them.
1. Getting to know better the lives of our people
Our bishops, priests, religious and community leaders are encouraged to go out of their churches and monasteries in order to visit the faithful and listen to them. Too often in the eyes of some faithful, they seem distant from the real problems that beset our families, struggling to survive in difficult situations caused by the realities of occupation, discrimination, fanaticism and economic duress. The concrete circumstances of the lives of the people, especially those who are the poorest and the most excluded, should also be reflected in the life of the church, in the homilies that actualize the Word of God at mass, in the prayers of the faithful and in the pastoral activities and social outreach that the communities engage in.
Themes of justice, equality and peace must find their place also in the formation of clergy and religious and other pastoral agents. Although the discourse of the Church is religious and spiritual, not political or economic, the concrete circumstances of the people should be reflected in Church discourse. The life of the people is part and parcel of the life of the Church and this should be manifest in order to facilitate a fuller participation of the faithful in all walks of the life of our church communities.
2. Promoting communal solidarity
The Church in the Holy Land is rich in institutions that take care of the poor, the marginalized, the handicapped and those who are the weakest and most exposed. We are fortunate that these institutions and all the work of the Church are supported by generous donors throughout the world. We do not forget that they too are part of this synodal journey as we include them in our efforts to go out, to listen and to get to know who we are and where we are heading. Our institutions are invited into the synodal process too, encouraged to get to know each other even better, strengthen their coordination, complementing one another and rejecting duplication and any temptation to compete with one another.
A challenge is to develop a greater communal solidarity so that we also help one another, the more fortunate helping those less fortunate within our communities. This is a propitious time to promote and develop further forms of self-help within parishes and Christian communities. This can be promoted by a precise analysis of needs, spearheaded within each parish by those professionals who can help with such a project. This is a first step in developing a strategy that can be adopted within the local community as it gets to know the concrete needs of the members of the community.
3. Justice, equality and peace are the concern of all
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries can be a resource for this at the local level and members of the commission can be consulted and convoked to help in this task. This proposal can also apply to men and women religious, ecclesial movements and other associations.
On these questions rich resources abound:
The Latin Patriarchate’s Society of Saint Yves is an active Catholic presence in the struggle for human rights (https://www.saintyves.org/)
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center is another Christian organization that follows closely what is happening around us (https://sabeel.org/)
4. Promoting integration and participation in society
The synod encourages us to go out, beyond our comfort zones, and this also means promoting the involvement of qualified lay people getting involved in the life of civil society at every level. The clergy must encourage Christians to get involved in civil society and resist the temptation to replace them by serving as mediators between civil society and the Christians, who are sometimes perceived as distancing themselves from it. Tempted to remain within closed Christian-only environments (whether housing projects, schools or Christian institutions), some Christians are more and more isolated from the society in which they live. We need a new generation of Christian leaders who play their role both in the life of civil society (in Palestine and in Israel) and in the Church.The future of our Christian presence in the country will depend on this commitment.
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries
Holy Land Preparatory Committee for the Synod 2021-2023