Eastern Churches to Break Free From the Chains of the Past

Nov 23, 2002 03:00 AM EST

VATICAN CITY—On a meeting with 65 representatives at the Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches on November 21, Pope John Paul II encouraged leaders of Eastern-rite Catholic Churches to be open to their missionary vocation.

The pope proposed a "pastoral renewal" of the churches, whose origin dates back to the first Christian communities, exhorting them not to be imprisoned from the past.

"In fact, each particular ecclesial community must not limit itself to the study of its internal problems," he said. "Rather, it must open itself to the great horizons of the modern apostolate destined for the men of our time, in a special way toward young people, the poor and the 'fallen away.'"

The Eastern rite Catholic Churches reside from five traditions: Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldean and Constantinopolitan. Among these communities that lie in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia, the Pope believes there to be"numerical scarcity, lack of means, isolation, and minority condition(s)”

These circumstances "often impede serene and fruitful pastoral, educational, helpful and charitable action," the Pope noted. Moreover, these communities experience "an incessant migratory flow toward the West of the most promising components" of these Churches, he added.

At the conference, John Paul II promoted the breaking from the"formulas of the past"and to the opening"to a healthy updating."

"Aggiornamento," he said in Italian, the word used by John XXIII to express the renewal that the Second Vatican Council would promote. He concluded, as he quoted the"Good Pope,"that the key to this updating lies in the "wise harmony between the new and the old."

By Pauline J.
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