Monthly Archives

January 2003

2003, Articles, Raiati

The Hope for Christian Unity / 26.01.2003

On the 25th of this month, the week of prayer for the unity of Churches ended. Services were held in different places hoping for this unity. Some people might have become tired from the existing barriers between Churches as if they are eternal barriers.

However, what distinguishes this week, as its establishers wanted, is the fact that it invites believers to pray for the unity as God wanted it i.e. without presenting any administrative formula for a possible global Christian meeting. It is obvious that the issue of an administrative formula is the knottiest issue because every main Church suggests its own image for unity. Catholicism cannot see a unity without the global leadership and immaculacy of the pope. Orthodoxy can only understand this unity on the basis of the independence of the Patriarchates among a unity in doctrine and sacraments.

Of course, this isn’t the only issue. There are other differences because the West has defined new doctrines in the Millennium that came after the Great Schism while the East didn’t meet to discuss those doctrines. One of these doctrines is the one related to the Papal status. After the First Vatican Council that was held in 1870, the issue that was simple papal practice, i.e. spreading the global authority of the Bishop of Rome over the Catholic world, became a mandatory doctrine for believers. This has caused a rift.

The question that must be asked is the following: Can we find a new form that keeps the legitimate status of the bishop of Rome and keep at the same time, for the Eastern Churches and other Churches, an independent existence? This would allow them to feel that they coordinate with Rome but remain faithful to what they received from the Apostles and the Holy Fathers.

If we wanted an actual unity that we could live through unity and diversity, we must notice that we cannot melt two Churches in one mold because there exists an Eastern Christianity and a Western one and each of them has its own particularity. We may have learned from the fact that we had different Churches with different characteristics for a whole millennium that there is a big margin of differences that cannot be neglected. The West will not baptize by dipping the person as we do (and in my own opinion this is an important issue. They will also not give communion with leavened bread (and this is also important for me). These are just two symbols for the existence of two different mentalities in the one Christianity.

It is necessary to be attached to the essential things and leave other things for the freedom of the other Church. What is important and what is less important? This is left for discussions and negotiations between Churches.

However, we must know that there are barriers that don’t come from theological ideas but from reluctant hearts. Orthodox people in some countries (Russia and Ukraine for example) are dominated by the idea that Catholicism has greedy intentions towards their countries. This is a crusade complex that makes the Orthodox person believe that the West is still practicing it over him. In addition to that, there are nationalistic rivalries that need some time to be removed. For example we mention the rivalry between the Croats and the Serbs.

In our region, we are liberated from this and we live in an atmosphere full of trust. However, we need a big awareness in order for each of us to understand the reality of the Church of the other. Nevertheless, we notice among people that the Maronite or the Catholic feels happy towards our spiritual revival and also the Orthodox believer feels the same towards the liturgical reform that the Maronites are doing for example. Everyone feels happy towards the theological and spiritual production that is appearing since several years in all Christians.

We have no doubt that as much as we get strengthened through Christ each of us inside his tribe, we would overcome the old fear or arrogance and let the other join our hearts. This would facilitate the intellectual rapprochement among discerning people as we await the Lord let us reach a complete unity through his tenderness.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “رجاء الوحدة المسيحية” –Raiati 4- 26.01.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

The Religion of Cloning / 19.01.2003

Three people are working on human cloning. One of these is Brigitte Boisselier, a French member of the new religion called Raelians whose founder is a man that names himself “Rael” which means “God’s light”. He claims that he saw a humanly creature coming from outside the earth. This creature revealed to Rael that humans are made outside the earth and were sent to it in a period of twenty-five thousand years by “Elohim”, which means God in the Torah.

This man collects donations to build an embassy near “AL-Kuds” (Jerusalem), and if the state of Israel didn’t allow that he would build it in the Palestinian lands. He says that he is “the last prophet” and that he is a half brother of Jesus. However, he added in a program that was shown on the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel that he also believes in Mohammad.

The investigations of the foreign press showed that this man is a fruit of an illegal relationship from a woman named Mary. The press says that he is an Atheist, but he has his own rituals and one of these resembles baptism.

Rael and Boisselier, who joined this group, both believe that cloning is the key to eternal life through transferring the brain into another creature. Of course, this religion believes that cloning bodies results in eternal life although the new brain is affected by the new environment and upbringing and knowing that perfect matching is not possible in living creatures that change constantly.

The followers of this religion state that they put an effort to artificially create a creature that is 100% made in the laboratory.

What did actually happen when Boisselier declared that the child “Eve” was born on December 26th of last year? Was she really born? Where is she? The operation that happened, as they claimed, is for an American sterile woman. They took a cell out of her skin and an ovule; and after letting these meet through electrical operations, the fetus was put in her womb and then she gave birth to the child through a caesarian surgery.  They will make sure scientifically that the child is the woman’s daughter (Why don’t we call her “her sister”?). However, recent news showed that “Clonaid” – the company owned by the Raelians – will not perform a D.N.A. test on the child. The reason they used was the parents being afraid that their daughter might be kidnapped.

If “Bishop” boisselier – as she calls herself – was right, we will face legal and religious questions. And I will speak on behalf of the religious side next week. However, there is a campaign led by officials in France, Germany, the European Union and other countries against this technology. President Chirac Considered this surgery as a crime and people in all places are waiting for laws against human cloning.

In the TV show that I mentioned, where I was present with Rael and Boisselier (they spoke from Canada) and where I mentioned that humans are males and females, Rael responded saying that what they did, exists. So my argument against that was that not everything that exists is permissible. If we believe that scientific research is a good thing, this doesn’t mean that producing everything is allowed. Then I commented saying that the nuclear bomb exists, however its usage is against humanity.

This new religion which is believed to have fifty thousand followers around the world might disappear and not many people will believe that we come from outside the earth. However, human cloning is a very dangerous thing and is the destruction of the humanity that we know.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “ديانة الاستنساخ” –Raiati no3- 19.01.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

Changing Parish Councils / 05.01.2003

When the Holy Synod legislated the Law of Parish Councils in 1973, the idea was to let lay people participate more and more in the activity by working under the supervision of the priest not only in Church property issues but in youth and educational subjects. It was normal not to leave the priest aside because he who is responsible for your spiritual life is also responsible for other issues but through cooperation with his lay brothers.

The law saw that one third of the council must be changed every two years in order to let the largest possible number participate if they were committed to ecclesiastic life because activity is not limited in Church property but also deals with all our pastoral life. After that we dropped the clause that is related to “the third” but we determined that the reign of the council is for four years. However, the idea of changing the members (not necessarily all members) stayed. This change is based on the fact that the possibility must be found for the rising generations so that we do not underestimate anyone’s youth, and Apostle Paul has talked about that.

The law didn’t mention anything concerning familial representation because the Church is not composed from families but from individuals, and the relationship between the believer and his Church passes through his Baptism and not through his family. The Synod didn’t think about environments in which the familial feeling occupies a great status. However, in this Mount, I have regarded the familial sensibility because it exists in villages. But this standard doesn’t dominate us; the standard that dominates is the standard of piety, ecclesiastic practice and personal maturity.

However, the difficulty that we faced is that some people want to stay in their positions because they think that they are useful for service, and in many situations I do not ignore that. But no one can believe alone that his usefulness for the position continues until his death. Others are also useful and our duty is to invite new people that have a lot of efficiency and they should feel that we are in need for their efficiency as they should also feel that the responsibility in the Council isn’t based on anyone.

The assigning happens once every four years, and it is good in order to embrace all generations to lay off some old people or the whole council according to what suites the local situation. And in the Christian life, the elder is not better than the young man and the young man isn’t better than the elder. But we shouldn’t give the impression that there are indispensable people. The Holy Spirit sends his gifts to whoever he wants, and there is no doubt that all institutions need a renewal of powers and new ideas. It is also obvious that wisdom is not limited in anyone and a short time is required for the new members to be trained for their responsibilities. We have one person that stays in his position and that is the Bishop. While the others are used when they are needed and dispensed when needed because no one has a privilege or a notability on this earth. Our only notability is in the Kingdom of God.

In addition to that, the responsibility of the parish is related to every believer whether he was in the council or not. He can express his opinion which often has an influence whether he was a member in the council or not. It is not acceptable to give the impression that someone’s position is dedicated for him until his death. A lot of times, the active, pure and discerning believer doesn’t feel that he is welcomed and the parish doesn’t feel the necessity to invite this person to take care of issues. The circulation of responsibility is a symbol of the importance of the rising generations.

Changing the members is a very healthy thing and carries hope. We should be trained on the idea that no one is eternal in a position. It is time for you to know that this archdiocese acts with love towards all of you even if it committed a mistake in choosing people. The thing that increases your recognition is the fact that our issues won’t become straight unless the archdiocese tried to use new people that have gifts without denying the gifts found in the existing councils.

We are in an urgent need for change because of our appreciation to the rising generations and we should make them feel that we do not neglect them in managing our local issues. And if perfect trust unites us, there is no more need for any disturbance or sadness. If you were certain that abuse has no place in this archdiocese and that our only pioneer is love, you should accept the new members as you have accepted the old ones. Everything is for construction and for the progress of the Church towards Christ.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “في تغيير مجالس الرعايا” –Raiati 1- 05.01.2003

Continue reading