We publish here the final declaration of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land after their meeting, which took place on November 8 and 9, 2017 in Jerusalem.

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The meeting, presided by Archbishop George Bacouni, was held at the Maison d’Abraham (Jerusalem) on November 8 and 9, with the participation of the ordinaries coming from Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus, the two representatives of the Union of Men and Women Religious in the Holy Land and in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan, HE Archbishop Alberto Ortega and the chargé d’affaires of the Nunciatura and Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem, Monsignor Marco Formica.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Council for Promotion of Christian Unity, who was visiting the Holy Land in order to further ecumenical dialogue, honored the Assembly by being present at the opening of the meeting. He responded to questions from the Assembly regarding progress in ecumenical relations.

Monsignor Formica read the message from the new Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, whose official arrival is foreseen for November 27.

The Assembly studied the following themes:

1. The educational project of the Catholic schools, presented by Father Iyad Twal, in the name of the General Secretariat, was approved by the Assembly. The project affirms that the principle object of the Catholic schools is to assure integral human formation, an experience in human and Christian values. The school must pass from a method of teaching facts to a teaching style focused on the pupil.

2. The upcoming World Youth Days in Panama: the various dioceses of the Holy Land will participate in January 2019, reducing however the number of participants in order to improve the quality of the spiritual participation.

3. The upcoming Synod on “Youth, faith and the discernment of vocations”: Bishop Shomali presented the responses to the questionnaire included in the Lineamenta and underlined the principal challenges and significant opportunities for the youth in our countries. Among the great challenges is the political instability and unemployment, which motivates the youth to emigrate as well as inter-religious coexistence in a time of growing radicalization. Among the opportunities, the responses insisted on the existence of a relatively young clergy, the contribution of the religious congregations and the strong religiosity of our faithful. Furthermore, the expectation of the youth is that the clergy be more coherent and credible, closer to the preoccupations and hopes of the youth and that the Church be less bureaucratic and more a witness of the mercy of God.

4. The presidents of the various commissions presented their reports on the occasion of the ending of their five-year mandate and in the expectation of the new nominations. The bishops listened to the following reports: on the family (Archbishop Maroun Lahham), Justice and Peace (Patriach emeritus Michel Sabbah), pilgrimages (Father Pietro Felet), the youth (Bishop William Shomali), ecumenical dialogue (Father Frans Bouwen), the Pontifical Missionary Works (Father Abdo Abdo) and the committee for legal affairs (Father Elias Dau).

The next meeting of the Assembly of Ordinaries will take place in Cyprus on April 11 and 12, 2018.