The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (comprising all the Catholic Ordinaries of the Latin and Eastern rites in Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus) recently published Pastoral Ecumenical Guidelines for the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, which will become effective on 28 November 2021. The aim of the document is “to enlighten, motivate and guide the ecumenical relations of the Catholic Church” in these countries. The Guidelines seek to adapt the teaching and norms of the Catholic Church to the local ecclesial context, acknowledging that the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1993, remains the main source of guidance.
The faithful from the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the Holy Land live closely together in a unique way with a corresponding richness of diversity, particularly among families. However, “as a consequence of this living reality at the grassroots level, the faithful tend to cross easily the denominational boundaries in church life and activities, even in liturgical and sacramental life”. The Guidelines offer discernment and clarification with a view to promoting initiatives in full respect for the identity and liturgical discipline of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, with which a “real, even if imperfect communion” exists. The Guidelines outline how this can be expressed through sharing in prayer and liturgical life, while avoiding anything that could be misunderstood as proselytism. Consultation with the pastors of the other Churches and Communities is recommended wherever possible.
The full text of the document is accessible on the website of the Latin Patriarchate, in English, French and Arabic.