Francophonie & Heritage in the Middle East: report handed to the President of the Republic

Below you will find the summary of Charles Personnaz’s report handed to the President of the Republic: “Strengthen France’s action in protecting the heritage of the Middle East and supporting the educational network of the Christian communities in the region.”

Charles Personnaz is the Director of the Institut national du patrimoine (National Heritage Institute – institute of higher education under the auspices of the French Ministry of Culture). He was commissioned by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to write a report on strengthening of France’s action in protecting the heritage of the Middle East. Orient and support to the educational network of the Christian communities of the region.  

Here you will find the complete report (in French) commissioned by the President of the Republic.





True to the universal principles that it advocates, France is committed to pluralism and freedom in the Middle East. Conscious of its ties and its historic responsibilities in this region, it applies this policy with respect to all parties, all nations, and all communities.


As part of this engagement, France grants special, non-exclusive consideration to supporting Christian and other communities in danger, such as the Yazidis, thus honouring its deep ties to the region. This action should not, however, be regarded as fulfilling a nostalgic duty or as a mere gesture to a shared past. On the contrary, the attention that France bestows on these communities forms part of an overall investment whose purpose is to build peace and prosperity in the region, an investment that is also profoundly beneficial for France.


This investment for the future is all the more urgent as these communities that have experienced terrible suffering in recent years – whose very existence is threatened by the millions who have died and the exile of hundreds of thousands of their members – are tempted to flee their country definitively and en masse. This would lead to the loss of the Middle East’s pluralistic nature, a deep-rooted portion of its cultural sources and its multi-denominational character. The unique bond between France and the Arabic world, these two communities that bridge the Mediterranean, would be irredeemably impaired.


This report focuses on two topics that may seem unconnected but which are, in reality, intrinsically interrelated, as they both serve to create a new social conscience in the Near and Middle East: support for heritage conservation and for Christian communities’ educational facilities.


The region’s Christian communities are custodians of two millennia of heritage. This multi-faceted legacy has suffered from the ravages of time, from the lack of resources to ensure its protection, and to this very day, from the furies of devastating war. In Syria and Iraq, civil war and iconoclastic violence by Islamist movements have seriously affected all communities – from Yazidis, to Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike. In other Arab-world countries, the risk stems more from a lack of protection against the pressures of unbridled urban development.


To develop and provide assistance in the field of heritage conservation, France can draw on a longstanding tradition of study and research into the oriental world, nurtured by French universities, libraries and museums. This rich fusion of knowledge and human bonds has, for some years, been complemented by an awareness of the fragility of this heritage of humankind. The distressing spectacle of the destruction of Palmyra and other emblematic landmarks has helped to create new modes of response. Thus, on the initiative of France, the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas was founded.


Thanks to this expertise and by means of these new tools, this report presents several proposals, specifically: to use French cultural institutions to highlight the rich Eastern Christian, Yazidi, and Jewish civilisations in the Middle East; to implement a concerted plan to protect written heritage; to strengthen cooperation in the sphere of cultural cataloguing; to make proposals to the ALIPH for restoration projects in these communities ; and to conduct projects to showcase this cultural heritage, via the French Development Agency.


By helping to protect these communities’ heritage, we are re-asserting that they are the custodians of art, ideas, and a faith that go back to the very roots of Arabic societies, and that these roots engender a will to help build the future of these societies and transmit a specific cultural identity that is open to the world.


The Christian communities wish to share the cultural heritage they have inherited and serve the societies to which they belong by making a concerted effort in favour of education for everyone; Christians and Muslims alike, rich and poor, people from all regions. The Christian school network is dense and standards are high. It advocates the principles of the French Republic and must be supported by France for two major reasons: firstly, because it is the principal vector of the French language in this region, and secondly, because it provides a space to build peace and fellowship. Children of all religions learn and grow up together in these schools.


As spaces of freedom, these schools must receive more support. They have to face a variety of challenges: political, financial, training issues, and the decline of the French-speaking environment. These are real, major challenges, but France can provide sufficient backing to ensure that, together, we can rise to them. It can do so by creating a support fund, by establishing public-private partnerships, by developing continuing education including for non-bilingual schools, by encouraging French-speaking volunteers, by spreading best practices to other countries, and by extending its appreciation to all the stakeholders in the network.


The Christian school network in the Middle East provides a public service with three benefits: it enables the Christian communities to envisage a future in their land; it gives the Arab states good-quality education that is open to all and open to the world; and it gives France an invaluable means to extend its cultural influence, a culture that it shares with the Near and Middle East.


Now, as these war-stricken countries begin to rebuild, at a time when efforts to secure stability and peace in the region must be intensified, by making a commitment to the Middle East’s heritage and the Christian community’s education network France is actually establishing part of its future relationship with the Near and Middle East. In order to achieve this ambition, various proposals – political and technical, ad hoc, or structural – are outlined in the following pages. They could be announced during one of the President of the Republic’s scheduled visits to the region (to Egypt, Lebanon, or Iraq) and monitored every two years, coordinated by the President’s diplomatic unit and implemented by the Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for National Education and the Ministry for Culture. A special advisor could be appointed by the President of the Republic to follow the mission for the next three years, with a special remit to prepare the 2019 Paris conference on victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East and implement the recommendations of the present report. Relating as it does to cultural and educational matters, it would be appropriate for the Institut de France to sponsor this action.

Christian schools in the Middle East: a challenge of civilization

Christian schools in the Middle East: a challenge of civilization – by Msgr Pascal Gollnisch, General Director of l’Œuvre d’Orient


In a torn region where international tensions, extreme violence, discouragement and weariness seem to be concentrated, Christian schools appear as a vehicle for reconciliation and hope. Mostly French-speaking, they care to put themselves at the service of an authentic humanism and carry the values ​​of freedom, fraternity, equality, values ​​to which the people of the Middle East aspire even if they do not always have the means to express it.

For centuries, Christian schools have welcomed Christian and Muslim students, boys and girls, from rich and poor families, sometimes very poor, who learn to know and respect each other in their otherness and differences. The executives of these countries have often been trained in these well-known and respected establishments, which are located in the heart of the big cities as well as in the remote countryside.

For more than 160 years, l’Œuvre d’Orient, initially created under the name of Œuvre des écoles d’Orient, supports these numerous schools of catholic education in the Middle East, with moderate means, but with passion.


Today, four hundred thousand students receive instruction in French, whether in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, or the Holy Land. The French language, taught in these institutions, has the capacity to open hearts and minds towards a true respect for the diversity of cultures. It is a bearer of a humanism, which the most deprived, the most disarmed, if not the most discriminated or persecuted can claim, humanism that puts the dignity of man at the heart of all action.


Teachers working in these schools carry encounters between different cultures, traditions and religions. They are aware of working to promote secularism and citizenship. They have the desire to serve the beauty of all life where the sick or disabled child has its place. They care about a vision of society that turns its back on violence, where everyone is recognized in the wealth it carries. Even before Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio, which emphasizes the fact that “every man is called to grow because every life is a vocation”, they made young people aware that each of them represents a sacred history and that the land where they are born, live and die is a sanctuary.

This educational action promotes what is called an inclusive society. These French-speaking institutions now extend to universities or academies supporting research in many fields. These structures make it possible to train the elites of tomorrow who will put the respect and the dignity of the man at the heart of their profession. The challenge is also to recognize the proper place of minorities and a secularism that is not an imitation of that prevailing in Western societies but the development of a model faithful to the personality and aspiration of the populations of the Middle East.



Francophonie in Catholic schools in the Middle East sometimes seems to be a forgotten, if not obsolete, Francophonie. Yet it is not a fossilized witness of the past, nor an instrument of power, it is an integral part of the present civilization. Who knows that in the Gaza Strip there are three Catholic schools, run by admirable nuns, made up of 99% Muslim students?

These establishments in the Holy Land face many difficulties. But trials do not stifle their hope, their freedom and their imagination.

The French State, particularly via l’Œuvre d’Orient, played an important role in the history of these schools, in their evolution. In Israel, Palestine and Jordan, these institutions know that they can count on the remarkable support and deep friendship of the Réseau Barnabé de l’Enseignement catholique (Barnabé Catholic Education Network), which l’Œuvre d’Orient has a partnership with since 2011.

One question remains: what is the project for societies in the Near and Middle East, including the Holy Land? As an educator we must certainly consider young people, take them into account but we can not educate the adults of tomorrow without having an idea of ​​the society that we want to build with them and for them.

The ultimate challenge is peace and the conditions it demands.

We know that Samuel Huntington feared that the next conflicts would not be territorial or economic but civilizational, he concluded nonetheless that civilization will be the best way to avoid wars.

French-speaking schools in the Middle East, and especially in the Holy Land, are a key element of this civilization of peace that the Mediterranean needs.


Mideast Synod’s Concluding Statement (2010)

Here is the Vatican translation of the Message to the People of God that the synod fathers of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops approved Friday.


“Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32)

To our brother priests, deacons, monks, nuns, consecrated persons, our dear lay faithful and all people of good will.





1. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.

The Synod of Bishops for the Middle East was for us a new Pentecost. “Pentecost is the original event but also a permanent dynamism, and the Synod of Bishops is a privileged moment in which the grace of Pentecost may be renewed in the Church’s journey” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at the Opening Liturgy, 10 October 2010).

We have come to Rome, We the Patriarchs and Bishops of the Catholic Churches in the Middle East with all our spiritual, liturgical, cultural and canonical patrimonies, carrying in our hearts the concerns of our people.

For the very first time, we have come together in a Synod, gathered around His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, with both cardinals and archbishops, who are heads of the various offices in the Roman Curia, presidents of episcopal conferences around the world, who are concerned with the issues of the Middle East, representatives from the Orthodox Churches and ecclesial communities and Jewish and Muslim guests.

We express our gratitude to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI for his care and for his teachings, which guide the journey of the Church in general and that of our Eastern Churches in particular, especially in the areas of justice and peace. We thank the episcopal conferences for their solidarity, their presence in our midst during their pilgrimages to the holy sites and their visits to our communities. We thank them for guiding our Churches in the various aspects of our life. We thank the different ecclesial organisations for their effective assistance.

Guided by the Holy Scriptures and the living Tradition, we have reflected together on the present and the future of Christians and all peoples of the Middle East. We have meditated on the issues of this region of the world which God willed, in the mystery of his love, to be the birthplace of his universal plan of salvation. From there, Abraham’s vocation was initiated. There, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. There, Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of life and the kingdom. There, he died to redeem humanity and free us from sin. There, he rose from the dead to give new life to all. There, the Church was formed and went forth to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to the world.

The primary aim of the Synod is pastoral. Thus, we have carried in our hearts the life, the pains and the hopes of our people as well as the challenges they need to confront each day “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rm 5:5). Dear sisters and brothers, we therefore address this message to you. We wish it to be an appeal to safeguard the faith, based on the Word of God, to collaboration in unity and to communion in the witness of love in every aspect of life.


I. The Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness throughout History

The Journey of Faith in the Middle East

2. In the Middle East, the first Christian community was born. From there, the apostles after Pentecost went evangelising the whole world. There, the early Christian community lived amid tensions and persecutions, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42), and no one of them was in need. There, the first martyrs, with their blood, fortified the foundations of the nascent Church. After them, the hermits filled the deserts with the perfume of their holiness and their faith. There, the Fathers of the Eastern Church lived and continued to nourish the Church in both the East and West through their teachings. In the early centuries and later, missionaries from our Churches departed for the Far East and the West, bringing with them the light of Christ. We are the heirs of that heritage. We need to continue to transmit their message to future generations.

In the past, Our Churches provided saints, priests and consecrated persons; they still do in the present. Our Churches have also sponsored many institutions which contributed – and still do – to the well being of our societies and countries, sacrificing self for the sake of the human person, who is created to the image of God and is the bearer of his likeness. Some of our Churches continue to send out missionaries who carry the Word of God to many places in the world. The pastoral, apostolic and missionary needs mandate us to put together a pastoral master-plan to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life in order to ensure the Church of tomorrow.

We are now at a turning point in our history: The God who has given us the faith in our Eastern lands 2000 years ago, calls us today to persevere with courage, strength and steadfastness in bearing the message of Christ and witnessing to his Gospel, the Gospel of love and peace.

Challenges and Aspirations


3.1. Today, we face many challenges. The first comes from within ourselves and our Churches. We are asked by Christ to accept our faith and to apply it to all situations in our lives. What he asks from our Churches is to strengthen the communion within every Church sui iuris and that of the Catholic Churches of various traditions, and to exert every effort in prayer and charitable acts in order to attain the full unity of all Christians so as to fulfil the prayer of Christ: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:21).

3.2. The second challenge comes from the outside, namely, political conditions, security in our countries and religious pluralism.

We have evaluated the social situation and the public security in all our countries in the Middle East. We have taken account of the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees. We have reflected on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live. We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance. With all this in mind, we see that a just and lasting peace is the only salvation for everyone and for the good of the region and its peoples.

3.3. We have reflected in our meetings and in our prayers the keen sufferings of the Iraqi people. We have recalled the Christians assassinated in Iraq, the continued suffering of the Church in Iraq and her sons who have been displaced and dispersed throughout the world, bringing with them the concerns for their land and their fatherland. The synod fathers have expressed their solidarity with the people and the Churches in Iraq and have expressed their desire that the emigrants, forced to leave their country, might find in the welcoming countries the necessary support to be able to return to their homeland and live in security.

3.4. We have extensively treated relations between Christians and Muslims. All of us share a common citizenship in our countries. Here we want to affirm, according to our Christian vision, a fundamental principle which ought to govern our relations, namely, God wants us to be Christians in and for our Middle Eastern societies. This is God’s plan for us. This is our mission and vocation – to live as Christians and Muslims together. Our actions in this area will be guided by the commandment of love and by the power of the Spirit within us.

The second principle which governs our relations is the fact that we are an integral part of our societies. Our mission, based on our faith and our duty to our home countries, obliges us to contribute to the construction of our countries as fellow-citizens, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.


II. Communion and Witness Within the Catholic Churches of the Middle East

To the Faithful of Our Churches

4.1. Jesus says to us: “You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world” (Mt 5:13.14). Your mission in our societies, beloved faithful, through faith, hope and love, is to be like “salt” which gives savour and meaning to life; to be like “light” by proclaiming the truth which scatters the darkness; and to be like the “leaven” which transforms hearts and minds. The first Christians of Jerusalem were few in number, yet they were able to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth because of the grace of “the Lord who acted with them and confirmed their Word by signs” (Mk 16:20).


4.2. We want to greet you, Christians of the Middle East, and we thank you for all you have achieved in your families and societies, in your Churches and nations. We commend you for your perseverance in times of adversity, suffering and anguish.


4.3. Dear priests, our co-workers in the mission of catechesis, liturgy and pastoral work, we renew our friendship and our trust in you. Continue to transmit to your faithful with zeal and perseverance the Gospel of life and Church’s tradition through your preaching, catechesis, spiritual direction and the good example of your lives. Build up the faith of the People of God to make of it a civilisation of love. Provide the sacraments to the People of God so that this People might aspire to be renewed. Gather them together in the union of love by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Dear consecrated men and women in the world, we express to you our gratitude and with you we thank God for the gift of the evangelical counsels – of consecrated chastity, of poverty and obedience – through which you have made the gift of yourselves as you follow Christ, the special love to whom you long to witness. It is thanks to your diverse apostolic initiatives that you are the true treasure and wealth of our Churches and a spiritual oasis in our parishes, dioceses and missions.

We unite ourselves spiritually to hermits, to monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to prayer in contemplative monasteries, sanctifying the hours of day and night, carrying the Church’s concerns and needs to God in their prayers. You offer the world a sign of hope through the witness of your life.


4.4. We express to you, faithful lay people, our esteem and our friendship. We appreciate everything you do for your families and societies, your Churches and home countries. Remain steadfast amidst trials and difficulties. We are filled with gratitude to the Lord for the charisms and talents which he has showered you and which equip you to participate, through the power of your baptism and chrismations, in the Church’s mission and her apostolic work to permeate the temporal world with the spirit and values of the Gospel. We invite you to give the witness of an authentic Christian life, of a conscientious religious practice and of good morals. Have the courage objectively to proclaim the truth.

Those of you who suffer in body, in soul and spirit, the oppressed, those forced from your homes, the persecuted, prisoners and detainees, we carry you all in our prayers. Unite your suffering to that of Christ the Redeemer and seek in his cross patience and strength. By the merit of your sufferings, you gain God’s merciful love.

We greet each of our Christian families and we look upon your vocation and mission with esteem as a living cell of society and a natural school of virtue and ethical and human values, the “domestic Church” which transmits the practices of prayer and of faith from one generation to the next. We thank parents and grandparents for the education of their children and grandchildren, who, like Jesus grow “in wisdom, in stature and grace in the sight of God and men” (Lk 2:52). We commit ourselves to the defence of the family through our pastoral programmes on its behalf, through marriage preparation courses and centres, open to all but mainly to couples in difficulty, where they can be welcomed and obtain counseling, and by defending the fundamental rights of the family.

We now wish to speak to the women of our Churches in a special way. We express to you our appreciation for what you are in the various states of life: girls, mothers, educators, consecrated women and those who engaged in public life. We revere you, because you harbour human life within you from its very beginnings, giving it care and tenderness. God has given you a special sensitivity for everything that pertains to education, humanitarian work and the apostolic life. We give thanks to God for your activities and we hope that you will be able to exercise greater responsibility in public life.

Young women and men, we look to you with the same love which Christ had for the young man in the Gospel (cf. Mk 10:21). You are the potential and renewing force for the future of our Churches, our communities and our countries. Plan your life under the loving gaze of Christ. Be responsible citizens and sincere believers. The Church joins you in your desire to find work commensurate with your talents, work which will help to stimulate your creativity, providing for your future and making possible the formation of a family of believers. Overcome the temptation of materialism and consumerism. Be strong in your Christian values.

We greet the heads of Catholic institutions of education. Pursue excellence and the Christian spirit in your teaching and education. Aim at the consolidation of a culture of harmonious living and concern for the poor and disabled. In spite of the challenges which confront your institutions, we invite you to maintain them, so as to further the Church’s educative mission and to promote the development and common good of our societies.

We address with great esteem those who work in the social sector. In your institutions you are at the service of charity. We encourage and support you in this mission of development, guided by the rich social teaching of the Church. Through your work, you strengthen the bonds of fellowship between people and serve the poor, the marginalised, the sick, refugees and prisoners without discrimination. You are guided by the words of the Lord Jesus: “Everything you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me!” (Mt 25:40).

We look with hope to prayer groups and apostolic movements. They are schools where our faith can mature and we can be given the strength to live that faith in family and society. We appreciate their activities in parishes and dioceses and their support for pastors, in accordance with the Church’s directives. We thank God for these groups and movements which are active cells in the parish and seed-beds for vocations to both the priesthood and the consecrated life.

We appreciate the role of the means of social communication, both printed and audio-visual. We thank you journalists for your collaboration with the Church in broadcasting her teachings and activities and, over the course of these days, for having given global news coverage to the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod.

We are pleased with the contribution of the media, both international and Catholic. With regard to the Middle East, Télé Lumiere-Noursat merits a special mention. We hope it will be able to continue its service of providing information and forming the faith, of working on behalf of Christian unity, of consolidating the Christian presence in the Middle East, of strengthening interreligious dialogue and the communion of all peoples of Middle Eastern origin, presently in every part of the globe.


To Our Faithful in the Diaspora

5. Emigration has become a generalised phenomenon by Christians, Muslims and Jews alike. All emigrate for reasons arising from political and economic instability. However, Christians also emigrate from a sense of insecurity, in varying degrees, in many Middle Eastern countries. May Christians have trust in the future and continue to live in their dear countries.

We send our greetings to you, members of our Churches in the various countries of the Diaspora. We ask you to keep alive in your hearts and concerns the memory of your countries and your Churches. You can contribute to their development and their growth by your prayers, your thoughts, your visits and by various other means, despite the fact that you are far from the Middle East.

Look at your goods and your properties in your home country; do not abandon and sell them too quickly. Keep them as your patrimony and as a piece of the homeland to which you remain attached, a homeland which you love and support. The land is part of a person’s identity and his mission. It is a vital aspect of the lives of those who remain there and for those who one day will return there. The land is a public good, a good of the community and a common patrimony. It should not be reduced to a question of individual interests on the part of those who own it and who alone decide, according to their desires, to keep or abandon it.

We accompany you with our prayers, you the children of our Churches and of our countries, forced to emigrate. Bear with you your faith, your culture and your patrimony, so as to enrich your new countries which provide you with peace, freedom and work. Look towards the future with confidence and joy. Hold fast to your spiritual values, to your cultural traditions and to your national patrimony, in order to offer to the countries which welcome you the best of yourselves and the best of that which you have. We thank the Churches of the countries of the Diaspora which have received our faithful and unceasingly collaborate with us to ensure the necessary pastoral services for them.


To the Migrants in Our Countries and Our Churches

6. We send our greetings to all immigrants of varying nationalities, who have come to our countries seeking employment.

We welcome you, beloved faithful, and we see your faith as a source of enrichment and a support for the faithful of our Churches. We joyously provide you with every spiritual assistance you might need.

We ask our Churches to pay special attention to these brothers and sisters and their difficulties, whatever may be their religion, especially when their rights and dignity are subject to abuse. They come to us not simply to seek the means for living but offer the services which our countries need. Their dignity comes from God. Like every human person, they have rights which must be respected. No one should violate those rights. That is why we call upon the various governments which receive them to respect and defend their rights.

Communion and Witness Together with the Orthodox and Protestant Communities in the Middle East

7. We send our greetings to the Orthodox and Protestant Communities in our countries. Together we work for the good of all Christians, that they may remain, grow and prosper. We share the same journey. Our challenges are the same and our future is the same. We wish to bear witness together as disciples of Christ. Only through our unity can we accomplish the mission that God has entrusted to us, despite the differences among our Churches. The prayer of Christ is our support; the commandment of love unites us, even if the road towards full communion is still distant for us.

We have walked together in the Middle East Council of Churches and we wish, with God’s grace, to continue on this path and to promote its activity, having as an ultimate goal a common testimony to our faith, the service of our faithful and of all our countries. We acknowledge and encourage all initiatives for ecumenical dialogue in each of our countries.

We express our gratitude to the World Council of Churches and to the different ecumenical organisations which work for the unity of the Churches and for their support.


IV. Cooperation and Dialogue with Our Fellow-Citizens, the Jews

8. The same Scriptures unite us; the Old Testament, the Word of God is for both you and us. We believe all that God revealed there, since he called Abraham, our common father in the faith, Father of Jews, of Christians and of Muslims. We believe in the promises of God and his covenant given to Abraham and to you. We believe that the Word of God is eternal.

The Second Vatican Council published the document Nostra aetate which treats interreligious dialogue with Judaism, Islam and the other religions. Other documents have subsequently clarified and developed the relationship with Judaism. On-going dialogue is taking place between the Church and the representatives of Judaism. We hope that this dialogue can bring us to work together to press those in authority to put and end to the political conflict which results in separating us and disrupting everyday life in our countries.

It is time for us to commit ourselves together to a sincere, just and permanent peace. Both Christians and Jews are called to this task by the Word of God. In his Word, we are invited us to listen to the voice of God “who speaks of peace”: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his holy ones” (Ps 85:9). Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable. On the contrary, recourse to religion must lead every person to see the face of God in others and to treat them according to their God-given prerogatives and God’s commandments, namely, according to God’s bountiful goodness, mercy, justice and love for us.


V. Cooperation and Dialogue with Our Fellow-Citizens, the Muslims

9. We are united by the faith in one God and by the commandment that says: do good and avoid evil. The words of the Second Vatican Council on the relations with other religions offer the basis for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Muslims: “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” (Nostra aetate 3).

We say to our Muslim fellow-citizens: we are brothers and sisters; God wishes us to be together, united by one faith in God and by the dual commandment of love of God and neighbour. Together we will construct our civil societies on the basis of citizenship, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Together we will work for the promotion of justice, peace, the rights of persons and the values of life and of the family. The construction of our countries is our common responsibility. We wish to offer to the East and to the West a model of coexistence between different religions and of positive collaboration between different civilisations for the good of our countries and that of all humanity.

Since the appearance of Islam in the seventh century and to the present, we have lived together and we have collaborated in the creation of our common civilisation. As in the past and still existent today, some imbalances are present in our relations. Through dialogue we must avoid all imbalances and misunderstandings. Pope Benedict XVI tells us that our dialogue must not be a passing reality. It is rather a vital necessity on which our future depends (Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Representatives from the Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). Our duty then is to educate believers concerning interreligious dialogue, the acceptance of pluralism and mutual esteem.


VI. Our Participation in Public Life: An Appeal to the Governments and to the Political Leadership in Our Countries

10. We appreciate the efforts which have been expended for the common good and the service to our societies. You are in our prayers and we ask God to guide your steps. We address you regarding the importance of equality among all citizens. Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties towards their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media.

We appeal to you to redouble your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace throughout the region and to stop the arms race, which will lead to security and economic prosperity and stop the hemorrhage of emigration which empties our countries of its vital forces. Peace is a precious gift entrusted by God to human family, whose members are to be “peacemakers who will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).


VII. Appeal to the International Community

11. The citizens of the countries of the Middle East call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.

The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders. The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.

Iraq will be able to put an end to the consequences of its deadly war and re-establish a secure way of life which will protect all its citizens with all their social structures, both religious and national.

Lebanon will be able to enjoy sovereignty over its entire territory, strengthen its national unity and carry on in its vocation to be the model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, of dialogue between different cultures and religions, and of the promotion of basic public freedoms.

We condemn violence and terrorism from wherever it may proceed as well as all religious extremism. We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon the religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world.


Conclusion: Continue to Bear Witness to the Divine Path That Has Been Shown to Us in the Person of Jesus


12. Brothers and sisters, in closing, we say with the St. John the Apostle: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”(1 Jn 1:1-3).

This Divine Life which has appeared to the apostles over 2000 years ago in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ and to which the Church has witnessed throughout the course of her history will always remain the life of our Churches in the Middle East and the object of our witness, sustained by the promise of the Lord:“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the time” (Mt 28:20). Together we proceed on our journey with hope,“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rm 5:5).

We confess that, until now, we have not done what is possible to better live communion in our communities. We have not done enough to better live communion among our communities. We have not done everything possible to confirm you in your faith and to give you the spiritual nourishment you need in your difficulties. The Lord invites us to a conversion as individuals and communities.

Today we return to you full of hope, strength and resolution, bearing with us the message of the Synod and its recommendations in order to study them together and to put them into practice in our Churches, each one according to the Church’s states of life. We hope also that this new effort might be ecumenical.

We make a humble and sincere appeal to you, that together we might embark on the road of conversion, allowing ourselves to be renewed through the grace of the Holy Spirit and again draw close to God.

To the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, under whose protection we have accomplished our Synodal task, we entrust our journey towards new, Christian horizons in the faith of Christ and through the power of his word: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).

Vatican II: Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rites (1964)


ON NOVEMBER 21, 1964




1. The Catholic Church holds in high esteem the institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and the established standards of the Christian life of the Eastern Churches, for in them, distinguished as they are for their venerable antiquity, there remains conspicuous the tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers (1) and that forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church. This Sacred Ecumenical Council, therefore, in its care for the Eastern Churches which bear living witness to this tradition, in order that they may flourish and with new apostolic vigor execute the task entrusted to them, has determined to lay down a number of principles, in addition to those which refer to the universal Church; all else is remitted to the care of the Eastern synods and of the Holy See.



2. The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites. Between these there exists an admirable bond of union, such that the variety within the Church in no way harms its unity; rather it manifests it, for it is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or Rite should retain its traditions whole and entire and likewise that it should adapt its way of life to the different needs of time and place.(2)

3. These individual Churches, whether of the East or the West, although they differ somewhat among themselves in rite (to use the current phrase), that is, in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, are, nevertheless, each as much as the others, entrusted to the pastoral government of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in primacy over the universal Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mark 16, 15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff.

4. Means should be taken therefore in every part of the world for the protection and advancement of all the individual Churches and, to this end, there should be established parishes and a special hierarchy where the spiritual good of the faithful demands it. The hierarchs of the different individual Churches with jurisdiction in one and the same territory should, by taking common counsel in regular meetings, strive to promote unity of action and with common endeavor to sustain common tasks, so as better to further the good of religion and to safeguard more effectively the ordered way of life of the clergy.(3)

All clerics and those aspiring to sacred Orders should be instructed in the rites and especially in the practical norms that must be applied in interritual questions. The laity, too, should be taught as part of its catechetical education about rites and their rules.

Finally, each and every Catholic, as also the baptized of every non-Catholic church or denomination who enters into the fullness of the Catholic communion, must retain his own rite wherever he is, must cherish it and observe it to the best of his ability (4), without prejudice to the right in special cases of persons, communities or areas, to have recourse to the Apostolic See, which, as the supreme judge of interchurch relations, will, acting itself or through other authorities, meet the needs of the occasion in an ecumenical spirit, by the issuance of opportune directives, decrees or rescripts.



5. History, tradition and abundant ecclesiastical institutions bear outstanding witness to the great merit owing to the Eastern Churches by the universal Church.(5) The Sacred Council, therefore, not only accords to this ecclesiastical and spiritual heritage the high regard which is its due and rightful praise, but also unhesitatingly looks on it as the heritage of the universal Church. For this reason it solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, have a full right and are in duty bound to rule themselves, each in accordance with its own established disciplines, since all these are praiseworthy by reason of their venerable antiquity, more harmonious with the character of their faithful and more suited to the promotion of the good of souls.

6. All members of the Eastern Rite should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of life, and that these may not be altered except to obtain for themselves an organic improvement. All these, then, must be observed by the members of the Eastern rites themselves. Besides, they should attain to an ever greater knowledge and a more exact use of them, and, if in their regard they have fallen short owing to contingencies of times and persons, they should take steps to return to their ancestral traditions.

Those who, by reason of their office or apostolic ministries, are in frequent communication with the Eastern Churches or their faithful should be instructed according as their office demands in the knowledge and veneration of the rites, discipline, doctrine, history and character of the members of the Eastern rites.(6) To enhance the efficacy of their apostolate, Religious and associations of the Latin Rite working in Eastern countries or among Eastern faithful are earnestly counseled to found houses or even provinces of the Eastern rite, as far as this can be done.(7)



7. The patriarchate, as an institution, has existed in the Church from the earliest times and was recognized by the first ecumenical councils.(8)

By the name Eastern patriarch, is meant the bishop to whom belongs jurisdiction over all bishops, not excepting metropolitans, clergy and people of his own territory or rite, in accordance with canon law and without prejudice to the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.(9)

Wherever a hierarch of any rite is appointed outside the territorial bounds of the patriarchate, he remains attached to the hierarchy of the patriarchate of that rite, in accordance with canon law.

8. Though some of the patriarchates of the Eastern Churches are of earlier and some of later date, nonetheless all are equal in respect of patriarchal dignity, without however prejudice to the legitimately established precedence of honor.(10)

9. By the most ancient tradition of the Church the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches are to be accorded special honor, seeing that each is set over his patriarchate as father and head.

This Sacred Council, therefore, determines that their rights and privileges should be re-established in accordance with the ancient tradition of each of the Churches and the decrees of the ecumenical councils.(11)

The rights and privileges in question are those that obtained in the time of union between East and West; though they should be adapted somewhat to modern conditions.

The patriarchs with their synods are the highest authority for all business of the patriarchate, including the right of establishing new eparchies and of nominating bishops of their rite within the territorial bounds of the patriarchate, without prejudice to the inalienable right of the Roman Pontiff to intervene in individual cases.

10. What has been said of patriarchs is valid also, in harmony with the canon law, in respect to major archbishops, who rule the whole of some individual church or rite.(12)

11. Seeing that the patriarchal office in the Eastern Church is a traditional form of government, the Sacred Ecumenical Council ardently desires that new patriarchates should be erected where there is need, to be established either by an ecumenical council or by the Roman Pontiff.(13)



12. The Sacred Ecumenical Council confirms and approves the ancient discipline of the sacraments existing in the Oriental Churches, as also the ritual practices connected with their celebration and administration and ardently desires that this should be re-established if circumstances warrant it.

13. The established practice in respect of the minister of Confirmation that has obtained from most early times in the Eastern Church should be fully restored. Therefore, priests validly confer this sacrament, using chrism blessed by a patriarch or a bishop.(14)

14. All Eastern Rite priests, either in conjunction with Baptism or separately from it, can confer this sacrament validly on all the faithful of any rite including the Latin; licitly, however, only if the regulations both of the common and the particular law are observed.(15) Priests, also, of the Latin Rite, in accordance with the faculties they enjoy in respect to the administration of this sacrament, validly administer it also to the faithful of Eastern Churches; without prejudice to the rite, observing in regard to licitness the regulations both of the common and of the particular law.(16)

15. The faithful are bound to take part on Sundays and feast days in the Divine Liturgy or, according to the regulations or custom of their own rite, in the celebration of the Divine Office.(17) That the faithful may be able more easily to fulfill their obligation, it is laid down that the period of time within which the precept should be observed extends from the Vespers of the vigil to the end of the Sunday or the feast day.(18) The faithful are earnestly exhorted to receive Holy Communion on these days, and indeed more frequently-yes, even daily.(19)

16. Owing to the fact that the faithful of the different individual churches dwell intermingled with each other in the same area or Eastern territory, the faculties for hearing confessions duly and without restriction given to priests of any rite by their own hierarchs extend to the whole territory of him who grants them and also to the places and faithful of any other rite in the same territory, unless the hierarch of the place has expressly excluded this for places of his rite.(20)

17. In order that the ancient established practice of the Sacrament of Orders in the Eastern Churches may flourish again, this Sacred Council ardently desires that the office of the permanent diaconate should, where it has fallen into disuse, be restored.(21) The legislative authorities of each individual church should decide about the subdiaconate and the minor orders and the rights and obligations that attach to them.(22)

18. To obviate invalid marriages when Eastern Catholics marry baptized Eastern non-Catholics and in order to promote fidelity in and the sanctity of marriage, as well as peace within the family, the Sacred Council determines that the canonical “form” for the celebration of these marriages is of obligation only for liceity; for their validity the presence of a sacred minister is sufficient, provided that other prescriptions of law are observed.(23)



19. It belongs only to an ecumenical council or to the Apostolic See to determine, transfer or suppress feast days common to all the Eastern Churches. On the other hand, to determine, transfer or suppress the feast days of any of the individual churches is within the competence not only of the Apostolic See but also of the patriarchal or archiepiscopal synod, due regard being had to the whole area and the other individual churches.(24)

20. Until such time as all Christians are agreed on a fixed day for the celebration of Easter, with a view meantime to promoting unity among the Christians of the same area or nation, it is left to the patriarchs or supreme authorities of a place to come to an agreement by the unanimous consent and combined counsel of those affected to celebrate the feast of Easter on the same Sunday.(25)

21. Individual faithful dwelling outside the area or territory of their own rite may follow completely the established custom of the place where they live as regards the law of the sacred seasons. In families of mixed rite it is permissible to observe this law according to one and the same rite.(26)

22. Eastern clerics and Religious should celebrate in accordance with the prescriptions and traditions of their own established custom the Divine Office, which from ancient times has been held in high honor in all Eastern Churches.(27) The faithful too should follow the example of their forebears and assist devoutly as occasion allows at the Divine Office.

23. It belongs to the patriarch with his synod, or to the supreme authority of each church with the council of the hierarchs, to regulate the use of languages in the sacred liturgical functions and, after reference to the Apostolic See, of approving translations of texts into the vernacular.(28)



24. The Eastern Churches in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome have a special duty of promoting the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians, in accordance with the principles of the decree, “About Ecumenism,” of this Sacred Council, by prayer in the first place, and by the example of their lives, by religious fidelity to the ancient Eastern traditions, by a greater knowledge of each other, by collaboration and a brotherly regard for objects and feelings.(29)

25. If any separated Eastern Christian should, under the guidance of the grace of the Holy Spirit, join himself to the unity of Catholics, no more should be required of him than what a bare profession of the Catholic faith demands. Eastern clerics, seeing that a valid priesthood is preserved among them, are permitted to exercise the Orders they possess on joining the unity of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the regulations established by the competent authority.(30)

26. Common participation in worship (communicatio in sacris) which harms the unity of the Church or involves formal acceptance of error or the danger of aberration in the faith, of scandal and indifferentism, is forbidden by divine law.(32) On the other hand, pastoral experience shows clearly that, as regards our Eastern brethren, there should be taken into consideration the different cases of individuals, where neither the unity of the Church is hurt nor are verified the dangers that must be avoided, but where the needs of the salvation of souls and their spiritual good are impelling motives. For that reason the Catholic Church has always adopted and now adopts rather a mild policy, offering to all the means of salvation and an example of charity among Christians, through participation in the sacraments and in other sacred functions and things. With this in mind, “lest because of the harshness of our judgment we be an obstacle to those seeking salvation” (31) and in order more and more to promote union with the Eastern Churches separated from us, the Sacred Council lays down the following policy.

27. Without prejudice to the principles noted earlier, Eastern Christians who are in fact separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, if they ask of their own accord and have the right dispositions, may be admitted to the sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick. Further, Catholics may ask for these same sacraments from those non-Catholic ministers whose churches possess valid sacraments, as often as necessity or a genuine spiritual benefit recommends such a course and access to a Catholic priest is physically or morally impossible.(33)

28. Further, given the same principles, common participation by Catholics with their Eastern separated brethren in sacred functions, things and places is allowed for a just cause.(34)

29. This conciliatory policy with regard to communicatio in sacris (participation in things sacred) with the brethren of the separated Eastern Churches is put into the care and control of the local hierarchs, in order that, by combined counsel among themselves and, if need be, after consultation also with the hierarchs of the separated churches, they may by timely and effective regulations and norms direct the relations among Christians.




30. The Sacred Council feels great joy in the fruitful zealous collaboration of the Eastern and the Western Catholic Churches and at the same time declares: All these directives of law are laid down in view of the present situation until such time as the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern Churches come together into complete unity.

Meanwhile, however, all Christians, Eastern as well as Western, are earnestly asked to pray to God fervently and assiduously, nay, indeed daily, that, with the aid of the most holy Mother of God, all may become one. Let them pray also that the strength and the consolation of the Holy Spirit may descend copiously upon all those many Christians of whatsoever church they be who endure suffering and deprivations for their unwavering avowal of the name of Christ.

“Love one another with fraternal charity, anticipating one another with honor” (Rom.12:10).

Each and all these matters which are set forth in this decree have been favorably voted on by the Fathers of the Council. And we, by the apostolic authority given us by Christ and in union with the Fathers, approve, decree and establish them in the Holy Spirit and command that they be promulgated for the glory of God.

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, November 21, 1964


(1) Leo XIII, Litt. Ap. Orientalium dignitas, 30 nov. 1894, in Leonis XIII Acta, vol. XIV, pp. 201-202.

(2) S. Leo IX, Litt. In terra pax, an. 1053: Ut enim; Innocentius III, Synodus Lateranensis IV, an. 1215, cap. IV: . Licet Graccos; Litt. Inter quatuor, 2 aug. 1206: Postulasti postmodum; Innocentius IV, Ep. Cum de cetero, 27 aug. 1247; Ep. Sub catholicae, 6 mart. 1254, proem.; Nicolaus III, Instructio Istud est memoriale, 9 oct. 1278; Leo X, Litt. Ap. Accepimus nuper, 18 maii 1521; Paulus III, Litt. Ap. Dudum, 23 dec. 1534; Pius IV, Const. Romanus Pontifex, 16 febr. 1564, 5; Clemens VIII, Const. Magnus Dominus, 23 dec. 1595, 10; Paulus V, Const. Solet circumspeata, 10 dec. 1615, 3; Benedictus XIV, Ep. Enc. Demandatam, 24 dec. 1743, 3; Ep. Enc. Allatae sunt, 26 iun. 1755, 3, 6-19, 32; Pius VI, Litt. Enc. Catholicae communionis, 24 maii 1787; Pius IX, Litt. In suprema, 6 ian. 1848, 3; Litt. Ap. Ecclesiam Christ;, 26 nov. 1853; Const. Romani Pontificis, 6 ian. 1862; Leo XIII, Litt. Ap. Praeclara, 20 iun. 1894, n. 7; Litt. Ap. Orientalium dignitas, 30 nov. 1894, proem.; etc.

(3) Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun. 1957, can. 4.

(4) Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun. 1957, can. 8: sine licentia Sedis Apostolicae, sequendo praxim saeculorum praecedentium; item quoad baptizatos acatholicos in can. 11 habetur: ritum quem maluerint am plecti possunt; in textu proposito disponitur modo positivo observantia ritus pro omnibus et ubique terrarum.

(5) Cfr. Leo XIII, Litt. Ap. Orientalium dignitas, 30 nov. 1894; Ep. Ap. Praeclara gratulationis, 20 iun. 1894, et documenta in nota 2 allata.

(6) Cfr. Benedictus XV, Motu proprio Orientis catholici, 15 oct. 1917, Pius XI, Litt. Enc. Rerum orientalium, 8 sept. 1928, etc.

(7) Praxis Ecclesiae catholicae temporibus Pii XI, Pii XII, Ioannis XXIII motum hunc abunde demonstrat.

(8) Cfr. Synodum Nicaenam I, can. 6; Constantinopolitanam I, can. 2 et 3; Chalcedonensem, can. 28; can. 9; Constantinopolitanam IV can. 17; can. 21; Lateranensem IV can. 5; can. 30; Florentinam, Decr. pro. Graecis; etc.

(9) Gfr. Synodum Nicaenam I, can. 6, Constantinopolitanam I, can. 3; Constantinopolitanam IV, can. 17, Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, can. 216; 2, 1 .

(10) In Synodis Oecumenicis: Nicaena I, can. 6; Constantinopolitana I, can. 3; Constantinopolitana IV, can. 21; Lateranensi IV, can. 5; Florentina, decr. pro Graecis, 6 iul. 1439, 9. Cfr. Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun. 1957, can. 219, etc.

(11) Cfr. supra, nota 8.

(12) Cfr. Synodum Ephesinam, can. 8; Clemens VII, Decet Romanum Pontificem, 23 febr. 1596; Pius VII, Litt. Ap. In universalis Ecclesiae, 22 febr. 1807; Pius XII Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun. 1957, can. 324-327; Syn. Carthaginen., an. 419, can. 17.

(13) Syn. Carthaginen., an. 419, can. 17 et 57; Chalcedonensis, an. 451, can. 12; S. Innocentius I, Litt. Et onus et honor, a. c. 415: Nam quid sciscitaris; S. Nicolaus I, Litt. Ad consulta vestra, 13 nov. 866: A quo autem; Innocentius III, Litt. Rex regum, 25 feb 1204; Leo XII, Const. Ap. Petrus Apostolorum Princeps, 15 aug 1824; Leo XIII, Litt. Ap. Christi Domini, an. 1895; Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun 1957, can. 159.

(14) Cfr. Innocentius IV, Ep Sub catholicae, 6 mart. 1264; 3, n. 4; Syn. Lugdunensis II, an. 1274 (professio fidei Michaelis Palaeologi Gregorio X oblata); Eugenius IV, in Syn. Florentina, Const. Exsultate Deo, 22 nov. 1439, 11; Clemens VIII, Instr. Sanctissimus, 31 aug. 1595; Benedictus XIV. Const. Etsi pastoralis, 26 maii 1742, II, n. 1, III, n. 1, etc.; Synodus Laodicena, an. 347/381, can. 48; Syn. Sisen. Armenorum, an. 1342; Synodus Libanen. Maronitarum, an. 1736, P. II, Cap. III n. 2, et aliae Synodi particulares.

(15) Cfr. S.C.S. Officii, Instr. (ad Ep. Scepusien.), an. 1783; S.C. de Prop. Fide (pro Coptis), 15 mart. 1790, n. XIII; Decr. 6 oct. 1863, C, a; S.C. pro Eccl. Orient. 1 maii 1948; S.C.S. Officii, resp. 22 apr. 1896 cum litt. 19 maii 1896.

(16) CIC, can. 782, 4; S.C. pra Eccl. Orient., Decretum . de Sacramento Confirmationis administrando etiam fidelibus orientalibus a presbyteris latini ritus, qui hoc indulto gaudeant pro fidelibus sui ritus, 1 maii 1948.

(17) Cfr. Syn. Laodicen., an. 347/381, can. 29; S. Nicephorus CP., cap. 14; Syn. Duinen. Armenorum, an. 719, can. 31; S. Theodorus Studita, sermo 21; S. Nicolaus I, Litt. Ad consulta vestra, 13 nov. 866: In quorum Apostolorum; Nos cupitis; Quod interrogatis; Praeterea consulitis; Si die Dominico; et Synodi particulares.

(18) Novum quid, saltem ubi viget obligatio audiendi S. Liturgiam; ceterum cohaeret diei liturgicae apud Orientales.

(19) Cfr. Canones Apostolorum, 8 et 9; Syn. Antiochena, an. 341, can. 2; Timotheus Alexandrinus, interrogat. 3; Innocentius III, Const. Quia divinae, 4 ian. 1215; et plurimae Synodi particulares Ecclesiarum Orientalium recentiores.

(20) Salva territorialitate iurisdictionis, canon providere intendit, in bonum animarum, pluralitati iurisdictionis in eodem territorio.

(21) Cfr. Syn. Nicaena I, can. 18; Syn. Neocaesarien., an. 314/ 325, can. 12; Syn. Sardicen., an. 343, can. 8; S. Leo M., Litt. Omnium quidem, 13 ian. 444; Syn. Chalcedonen., can. 6; Syn. Constantinopolitana IV, can. 23, 26; etc.

(22) Subdiaconatus consideratur apud Ecclesias Orientales plures Ordo minor, sed Motu proprio Pii XII, Cleri sanctitati, ei praescribuntur obligationes Ordinum maiorum. Canon proponit ut redeatur ad disciplinam antiquam singularum Ecclesiarum quoad obligationes subdiaconorum, in derogationem iuris communis Cleri sanctitati.

(23) Cfr. Pius XII, Motu proprio Crebrae allatae, 22 febr. 1949, can. 32, 2, n. 5 (facultas patriarcharum dispensandi a forma); Pius XII, Motu proprio Cleri sanctitati, 2 iun. 1957, can. 267 (facultas patriarcharum sanandi in radice); S.C.S. Offici et S.C. pro Eccl. Orient., an. 1957 concedunt facultatem dispensandi a forma et sanandi ob defectum formae (ad quinquennium): extra patriarchatus, Metropolitis, ceterisque Ordinariis locorum… qui nullum habent Superiorem infra Sanctam Sedem.

(24) Cfr. S. Leo M., Litt. Quod saepissime, 15 apr. 454: Petitionem autem; S. Nicephorus CP., cap. 13; Syn. Sergii Patriarchae 18 sept. 1596; can. 17; Pius VI Litt. Ap. Assueto paterne, 8 apr. 1775; etc.

(25) Cfr. Syn. Vaticana II Const. De Sacra Liturgia, 4 dec. 1963.

(26) Cfr. Clemens VIII, Instr. Sanctissimus, 31 aug. 1595, 6: Si ipsi graeci; S.C.S. Officii, 7 iun. 1673, ad 1 et 3; 13 mart. 1727, ad 1; S.C. de Prop. Fide, Decret. 18 aug. 1913, art. 33; Decret. 14 aug. 1914, art. 27; Decret. 27 mart. 1916, art. 14; S.C. pro Eccl. Orient., Decret. 1 mart. 1929, art. 36; Decret. 4 maii 1930 art. 41.

(27) Cfr. Syn. Laodicen., 347/381, can. 18; Syn. Mar Issaci Chaldaeorum, an. 410, can. 15; S. Nerses Glaien. Armenorum, an. 1166; Innocentius IV Ep. Sub catholicae, 6 mart. 1254, 8; Benedictus XIV, Const. Etsi pastoralis 26 maii 1742, 7, n. 5; Inst. Eo quamvis tempore, 4 maii 1745 42 ss.; et Synodi particulares recentiores:Armenorum (1911) Coptorum (1898), Maronitarurn (1736), Rumenorum (1872), Ruthenorum (1891), Syrorum (1888).

(28) Ex traditione orientali.

(29) Ex tenore Bullarum unionis singularum Ecclesiarum orientalium catholicarum.

(30) Obligatio synodalis quoad fratres seiunctos orientales et quoad omnes Ordines cuiuscumque gradus tum iuris divini tum ecclesiastici.

(31) Haec doctrina valet etiam in Ecclesiis seiunctis.

(32) S. Basilius M., Epistula canonica ad Amphilochium, PG. 32, 669 B.

(33) Fundamentum mitigationisconsideratur: 1) validitas sacramentorum; 2) bona fides et dispositio; 3) necessitas salutis aeternae; 4) absentia sacerdotis proprii; 5) exclusio periculorum vitandorum et formalis adhaesionis errori.

(34) Agitur de s. d. communicatione in sacris extrasacramentali, Concilium est quod mitigationem concedit, servatis servandis.

Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church’s UN speech

Louis Raphaël I Sako’s speech at the UN Security Council meeting on Eastern Christians (2015)


New York, 27 March 2015

On behalf of Christians of different ethnic and cultural denominations who endure such a severe ordeal in the Middle East, I extend my thanks to the French government for this pioneering humanitarian initiative, particularly to His Excellency Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Ladies and gentlemen,


As you know, this year we commemorate the centenary of the massacres of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Today, a hundred years after this tragedy, we are living in a similar tragic situation, which has caused many people to emigrate, and it is a great loss for all. Frankly speaking, the so-called Arab Spring, for us, didn’t turn out well. Had we had the opportunity to work in harmony with the mosaic of religions and ethnic groups in our region, there would have been a driving force for progress towards peace, stability and openness throughout the region.


From my seat, I wish to express the following message inspired by the humanitarian and spiritual values ​​that live within me. Positive coexistence based on justice, peace in love and citizenship should remain a top priority for the Security Council and the United Nations.


Regarding my country, I urgently call out to support the central government of Baghdad and the regional government of Kurdistan to free the city of Mosul, as well as the cities of the Nineveh Plains, where Christians, Yezidis and Shabaks live.

I make a solemn appeal to provide them with international protection, with a secure area, while strongly proclaiming the right to property for displaced families so that they can return to their villages and homes and resume a normal life. The central government must also compensate all these families for the damage and harm they have suffered.

In fact, the major problem lies in the way men think of religion, the state, and citizenship. In all of this, it is important to understand the role of individuals as citizens and members of civil society; that is why it is critical to neglect the role of religious and national education. All this is suggested to promote better coexistence in peace and respect.

Islamic extremist currents refuse to live with non-Muslims. They persecute them, tear them from their homes and destroy all traces of their history. We are faced with a cultural crisis that monopolises power, dismantles institutions and restricts freedom. It is therefore urgent to establish coherent criteria based on international law.


As I address this honorable assembly, I wish to emphasize that terrorists who commit crimes against humanity must not be equated with the innocent faithful of Islam. Indeed, this silent and peaceful Muslim majority rejects the politicization of their religion and accepts harmonious conviviality with others in a rule of law where laws and institutions are respected.

On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear that peace and stability can not be achieved exclusively through military intervention. They are unable to dismantle this fierce ideology that destroys lives and the cultural heritage.


This requires the international community, including the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to take decisions leading to political, cultural and educational solutions. The international community is called upon to effectively protect the mosaic of individuals and different groups in the same country, despite their diverse religious and ethnic origins, by promoting their rights and by strengthening relations between them.


I would like to draw your attention to the risk to see new currents, as harmful as Daesh (ISIS), emerge. When millions of children and young people are deprived of school and education, when millions of refugees are gathered in camps, deprived of the bare minimum of care and attention, then frustration, unemployment and poverty can easily lead them to revenge and extremism.



Therefore, we propose a process whose ambition is to get out of this vicious circle.


  1. Demand, from the United Nations, the executive update of constitutions and laws so as to achieve justice, equality and dignity for all, as citizens, without any discrimination. It is essential that our countries adopt governments that demand equality among all citizens. These governments must be responsible for protecting everyone and guaranteeing the rights of all citizens. The mere enumeration of these basic needs testifies to their serious lack.


  1. Recommend that religious leaders adopt a moderate speech, which helps to deepen the meaning of citizenship. Regardless of the diversity of their religious denominations or their ethnic affiliations, people should identify themselves first and foremost with their national territory. One important factor is lacking: it is curriculum reform that could help deepen the principles of respect among citizens, promote tolerance and dialogue and condemn division, hatred and revenge. All this is necessary to protect future generations from the sad consequences of certain positions that lead to extremism, violence and terrorism. This goal can only be attained if religious leaders present an appropriate exegesis of their sacred texts, and do not tolerate the use of violent sentences or passages taken out of context.


  1. Adopt a law that criminalizes and blames states and individuals who support terrorist groups, whether financially, intellectually or with weapons. Their actions are crimes against social peace.


  1. Promote the development of organizations for human rights and civil liberties. These organizations should have an executive and not just an advisory role, both regionally and internationally.


Thank you all and rest assured of my best wishes for success in your humanitarian service.