Synod: Lord’s Prayer in Arabic

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians throughout the Middle East should be using the same version of the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic, according to several members of the Synod of Bishops discussing Catholics in the region.

The need for a common, standard translation was brought up repeatedly in the hour of free discussion that marked the end of each day of the Oct. 10-24 synod.

The Middle East Council of Churches, an ecumenical body, spent years drawing up an Arabic version of both the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed; members agreed upon an “ecumenical translation” that was approved by all the member churches, including the Orthodox, one synod father said during free discussion Oct. 13.

Latin-rite Auxiliary Bishop William H. Shomali of Jerusalem told the synod Oct. 14 that “most of the liturgical books on the Latin liturgy have been translated into Arabic,“ which has helped bring the liturgy closer to the faithful.

According to Vatican officials, getting approval for a standardized Arabic version of the Lord’s Prayer for the Eastern-rite Catholic churches in the region is a decision made on the local level. The patriarchs must come together and decide to approve it as a group, one official said, speaking on background.

Bishops belonging to the Latin-rite churches would have to submit a common proposal to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, which would also consult with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in order to approve of the text, said another official speaking on background.

Bishop Shomali told the synod, “An Arabic Christian who belongs to (the Latin-rite) church feels 100 percent Eastern and 100 percent of the Latin Rite.”

The songs used for liturgy have evolved to include Eastern musical traditions along with traditional Western elements like Gregorian chant, he said.

“Our musicians, knowing the genius of the Latin liturgy with regards to precision, concision and clarity, composed valuable chants,” he said.

By using the Latin liturgy, Latin-rite Arab Christians easily feel part of the universal church which uses the same rite around the world, he said, and it’s easier for them to feel at home in Western parishes when they travel or emigrate to the West.

“Despite what has been achieved in liturgical matters, there is a need for a long and thoughtful inculturation especially as regards the sacrament of marriage and the rites of baptism and funerals,” but the process of bringing cultural elements into the liturgy must respect both the Latin tradition and the local culture, he said.

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