CCSM seminar: “Where is the train of Christian unity heading to?”
Coinciding with the week of prayer for Christian unity, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan held a seminar on Monday January 18 tackling “the march towards Christian unity”. The speakers at the seminar were Beit Jala Latin Patriarchate Seminary rector Fr. Jamal Khader and Greek Orthodox priest Fr. Ibrahim Dabbour. Present at the seminar were Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Archbishop Maroun Lahham, several heads and representatives of churches, priests, nuns and a large number of people from various churches and regions in Jordan.
CCSM Director Fr. Rif’at Bader welcomed the attendees saying: “In the name of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media and abouna.org site, I am honored to welcome you this evening on the first day of the week of prayer for Christian unity.
He added: “We all realize how dear this very intent has been to the heart of Lord Jesus Christ and His Church throughout the past ages. It is engraved in the heart of every Christian and person. Our Christian unity requires us to be united in our faith, in our testimony and in our mercy. We use the term “our mercy” because we are in this year which is assigned for the mercy of our Lord. Concluding his address, Fr. Bader said: “As we are addressing ‘Christian’ unity, let us seek further enhancement and consolidation of our national unity under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein.”
At the outset of the seminar, Fr. Jamal Khader briefly reviewed the history of the modern dialogue, and shed light on the theological and non-theological factors that had negative and positive impacts. Pointing out the difference between the terms “differences and disputes”, he stressed that there are differences in the rituals–which are being viewed as an enrichment and heritage to the Church as a whole, rather than a source of dispute, despite the existence of some doctrinal differences which are surmountable. He accentuated that there are fundamental issues that require unanimity, while ordinary issues should be incorporated with love.
Concluding his address, he talked about the “ecumenism of blood” noting that the Christians of the East in some areas have been suffering from forced displacement, persecution and murder. He that “whoever is being killed nowadays because of faith is never asked by the killers whether he/she is Orthodox or Catholic! These people are being killed because they are Christians. The blood united the Christians at the emergence of Christianity and it calls on us anew to attain unity.
For his part, Fr. Ibrahim Dabbour shed light on the Orthodox synod, due to convene in May 2106, which everyone pins hope on to attain the Church unity. He said: “We, in Jordan, do not differentiate between one Church and the other for we are joined by love in good and bad times.” He pointed out some differences have to be take into consideration, for what we are after is the communion of unity and love despite the differences in some expressions relevant to this faith.
In a brief interlocution, Archbishop Maroun Lahham called for dialogue based on love in its capacity as the main base of unity. He said that whenever love increases the diversity increases and the differences decrease. He said that sometimes we stop by trivial informalities, so let us focus on significant issues rather than virtual ones.
The attendees raised questions on the issues highlighted, indicating that “the Christians” earnestly seek unity, and stressed that Jordan went a long way through the unification of major holidays, namely Christmas and Easter. They stressed that this “Jordanian message”, relevant to the possibility of unity and harmony, can be conveyed to everybody particularly to the neighboring countries.
At the end of the seminar, Greek Orthodox deacon Yanal Awabdeh and Roman Catholic deacon Joseph Sweiss made a joint prayer as they intend to be ordained priests in the future… a future that reflects unity and harmony.
Later, the CCSM held a reception.
Nancy Tubasi Qazazi
Photo: Usama Tubasi