Melkite Leader Invites Neocatechumenal Way

Proposes Establishment of a Branch in Galilee

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JERUSALEM, JUNE 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The leader of the Melkite Greek Catholics of Galilee has proposed the establishment of a new "branch" of the Neocatechumenal Way to work specifically in the Eastern-rite Church.



In a recent letter sent to Father Rino Rossi, director of Domus Galilaeae -- a project of the Neocatechumenal Way -- Archbishop Elias Chacour recognized that this ecclesial reality is bearing "excellent fruits" in its evangelizing work within the Melkite Church.

Archbishop Chacour states in his message that he has searched for "someone or some community to preach the Good News to my parishioners" as an answer to proselytism of the sects, and that the Neocatechumenal Way is an answer.

To further develop the fruits of this evangelization, the archbishop proposes the establishment of a new branch of the Neocatechumenal Way that would work within the Melkite Church and adopt its liturgy.

"You follow with your procedures the same path and the same methods, my Ancestors, the Apostles, used at the beginning of Christianity two thousand years ago," Archbishop Chacour writes. "You proclaim the Word of God fearlessly with conviction and with determination."

Father Rossi expressed his joy at the invitation of the Melkite Church.

"We share the sense of urgency expressed by Archbishop Chacour to evangelize 'the living stones' in the land of the Lord," he told ZENIT. "The Neocatechumenal Way is an itinerary of evangelization that has shown itself to be quite valid for stopping the spread of sects among the Catholic faithful in other parts of the world, above all in Latin America."

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Here is an adapted text of the letter of Archbishop Chacour:

Dear Beloved Father Rino Rossi,
Haifa
30/03/07

Greetings in the name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I take the opportunity of Easter to wish you as we do in our oriental church: Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!

I take pleasure to express my appreciation and sincere respect for the wonderful ministry "Domus Galilaeae" has undertaken to proclaim the Good News in several parishes of our large diocese. It is maybe useful to you to be reminded that the Melkite Catholic diocese of Acco, Haifa, Nazareth and all of Galilee -- practically the diocese of Israel -- is the largest Catholic community in the Holy Land. This Catholic community represents 110,000 Catholics, among whom, in my diocese, 76,000 are Melkite Catholic Christians.

We have, by reasons of history, no control on any of the holy places and shrines except the synagogue in Nazareth. Our field of action and of ministry is to protect and develop the living Church, the living stones.

We have and are still exposed to the proselytizing of our Christians by different so-called Christian sects. I prayed and looked for someone or some community to preach the Good News to my parishioners. I found you ready and happy to help. …

[W]e know the tree by its fruits, and after several months of diligent work in the different parishes of the Melkite Catholic diocese, your group has given some excellent fruits. For that I am grateful and pray for all those who helped bring into the Church so many lost souls.

I would be happy to consider even a branch of the Neocatechumenate to join our Church and adopt the Melkite Catholic rite. You follow with your procedures the same path and the same methods, my Ancestors, the Apostles, used at the beginning of Christianity two thousand years ago. You proclaim the Word of God fearlessly with conviction and with determination.

You have respected the local needs of our Church, our traditions and our spirituality. We learn a lot from you and are sure that your group is opened to learn some things from our people and from our Church traditions.

Please convey to your community at Domus Galilaeae our gratitude and deep appreciation with our prayers.

Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!

Yours with the blessing of the Lord,

Abuna Elias Chacour
Archbishop of Galilee