Christmas in Bethlehem
Fireworks and unfettered joy marked the Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, under autonomous Palestinian rule for the first time. The festivities culminated with Midnight Mass offered by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, at which Msgr. Stern remembered the intentions of all our benefactors.
Following the “Status Quo” regulating the Christmas observances in Bethlehem, the civil authority was represented at the Mass. This year, however, marked the first time the head of that authority attended.
Mr. Arafat’s presence at the liturgy, as well as at the Christmas Eve dinner in the Franciscan monastery, demonstrated his conviction that Christians and Muslims must work together for the future of Palestine.
Requiscant in Pace
On 9 December, Archbishop Mario Brini, former Secretary for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, died in Rome.
A devoted student of the Eastern churches, Archbishop Brini worked closely with CNEWA and the Pontifical Mission while serving the Congregation from 1965 to 1982.
May he rest in peace.
On Thanksgiving Day, a good friend, Miss Lenora F. Buch of Harlan, Iowa, was called home to God.
Her longtime and extraordinary generosity to our Association included the sponsorship of over 600 seminarians, novices and needy children.
May God reward her abundantly for her generosity.
Special Assembly on Lebanon Meets
A Special Assembly on Lebanon of the Synod of Bishops met at the Vatican from 26 November to 14 December for intensive pastoral planning.
The synod brought together 119 participants from Lebanon, the Holy See and the Middle East, including “fraternal delegates” representing other Christian and Muslim communities.
The participants recommended a series of carefully worded propositions regarding the pastoral life and role of the church in post-war Lebanon. They were submitted to Pope John Paul II who will in turn develop a final document.
The assembly released a declaration addressing the pastoral affairs of the church in Lebanon as well as sociopolitical concerns.
Cardinal Keeler Honored
Calling him “a true friend to the American Muslim community,” the American Muslim Council awarded William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and Vice President of CNEWA, the Mahmoud Abu Saud Excellence Award at a banquet in Washington, D.C., on 8 December.
In accepting the award, Cardinal Keeler indicated that a “cooperative spirit of trust and friendship” has grown among Catholic and Muslim representatives in the U.S.
Eritrean Eparchies Erected
The Holy See announced in late December the creation of two new Eastern Catholic jurisdictions in Eritrea.
The Eparchy of Keren will serve northern Eritrea. The Rev. Tesfamarian Bedho, Vicar General of the Eparchy of Asmara, was appointed its bishop.
The Eparchy of Barentu will minister to the faithful in the western lowlands. The Rev. Luca Milesi, O.F.M. Cap., former Latin Vicar Apostolic, was named its bishop.
Synod of Syro-Malabar Bishops Meet
In early January, the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church convened in Rome to discuss the renewal of Syro-Malabar worship, formation of seminarians and church unity.
Stressing the importance of the Synod, the Pope indicated his concern for the Syro-Malabar Church at a time when “it is growing, not just in numbers but above all in awareness of its specific identity and character.”
In recent years, there has been considerable debate regarding the restoration of the traditional Syro-Malabar liturgy, or Qurbana. The Synod agreed to create a center to study questions regarding this apostolic community’s liturgy and tradition.
Cardinal Silvestrini Visits CNEWA
CNEWA was delighted to welcome Achille Cardinal Silvestrini, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, to our New York office on 31 January. The Cardinal, who works closely with CNEWA, met with Msgr. Stern and members of the CNEWA management team at an informal luncheon.
Armenian Catholicos Visits States
Making his first pastoral visit to the United States as Catholicos-Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians, Karekin I met with John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York and President of CNEWA, over breakfast at the Cardinal’s residence on 13 January.
In the course of a warm and wide-ranging discussion, the Catholicos discussed his priorities for the revitalization of the Armenian Church, including leadership preparation for both clergy and laity, repair and construction of churches and expansion of social services.