Synod of Bishops: The Bishop as a Sign of Unity in the Midst of Migratory Movements

Tuesday, October 09 2001

(CCCB – Rome) Bishop Joseph Khoury, the Maronite Eparch of Montreal, told the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome today that Bishops of the Eastern Churches can play a key role for people from Middle Eastern countries who are emigrating.

Bishop Khoury, appointed by the Holy Father as a special delegate to the Synod that is examining the ministry of the bishop in the new millennium, is the fourth bishop from Canada to address the gathering. The Eparch, originally from Lebanon, said the “devastating migration of people” has had dramatic effects on populations and resulted in “restless anxiety for both the faithful left behind as well as those who go to seek establishment in
far-off countries.”

Although these departures have made the presence of the Christian Church more fragile in home countries, the migration phenomenon also becomes for the Church a unique moment for enrichment, he said. “The immigrants from the Oriental Churches have little material wealth, but they bring with them a rich treasure, faith and a patrimony of spiritual and religious tradition that may well be enriching for the Occidental Churches if they are ready
for such exchange.”

The Bishop in the new host country has the task of fostering communion among the faithful in three main ways: communion with his Church of origin, communion with the Churches of the country of residence, and communion with the universal Church.

The Xth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened in Rome on Sunday, September 30, and will end on October 27. Four other Canadian bishops are among 250 participants attending the Synod. They include Bishop Gilles Cazabon, OMI, Saint Jerome; Bishop Raymond Lahey, St. George’s; Bishop Pierre Morissette, Baie-Comeau; and Archbishop James Weisgerber, Winnipeg.

The Synod is a regular meeting or religious assembly where the bishops, gathered in the presence of the Holy Father, can interact with one another as they search for pastoral approaches.

During the first two weeks of the Synodal assembly, each participant is invited to deliver an intervention not exceeding eight minutes in length. The choice of the theme of the intervention is left to each participant to decide.

After all the interventions are delivered, the delegates will gather in linguistic groups to discuss with one another and arrive at propositions that will be sent to a post-Synodal Council named by the Holy Father. This council will forward recommendations to the Pope to be included in an Apostolic Exhortation, a papal document that will follow from the Synod.

A summary of Bishop Khouri’s intervention may be viewed by clicking here.