Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 10th June, 4pm

SSJC Committee Open Meeting: Monday 19th June, Cathedral of the Holy Family. 6-15 Liturgy, Talk at 7-15, followed by meeting.

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.













Sunday, 29 September 2013

BBC News - Inside Delga - recaptured Islamist-held Egyptian town

BBC News - Inside Delga - recaptured Islamist-held Egyptian town

The Tablet - Bishop denounces Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch

The Tablet - Bishop denounces Syrian patriarch

A prominent French bishop has accused Gregory III Laham, the Damascus-based Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, of scheming with President Bashar al-Assad to block a planned Vatican peace visit to Syria by Catholic prelates in 2012. The Vatican announced at the end of its October 2012 synod on the Middle East that a delegation of seven church leaders, including Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York and Jean-Louis Tauran of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, would fly from Rome to Damascus to express their solidarity with Syrians suffering in the civil war. Bishop Claude Dagens of Angoulême told Radio Notre Dame in Paris on 11 September that the patriarch promptly telephoned Assad, "of whom we know he is an ally politically and financially" and made an unspecified deal with him. The plan ran into difficulties and the Vatican announced a week later that the visit was postponed because of the "gravity of the situation" in Syria. Bishop Dagens denounced Assad as head of a criminal regime and said he backed planned military strikes against Syria. He also said the argument that Assad protected Christians from Islamist militants, one often echoed by Christians, was Syrian propaganda. The patriarch hit back in a letter to the Vatican, the French bishops' conference and the Académie Française, of which Dagens is a member. "You have no idea how much your defamatory words have hurt and endangered the Melkite community," he wrote. Meanwhile it has emerged that Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists set fire to statues and crosses inside churches in the northern city of Raqa and destroyed a cross on a church clock tower. The Syria Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday that terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) carried out the attacks at the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation and the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs. At the latter church they destroyed a cross on its clock tower and replaced it with the ISIL flag, the news agency AFP reported. Most of Raqa fell to opponents of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in March. ISIL has imposed sharia on much of the local population.

In view of this outspoken attack by Bishop Dagens of Angouleme on a fellow Catholic bishop, let alone one of the highest dignity, integrity and reputation - a serious lapse in duty to episcopal fraternity and communion - the Society affirms its solidarity with His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios of Antioch and the efforts of the entire episcopate of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, in union with the Holy Father, to secure peace and reconciliation in Syria, as well as the freedom of the Melkite and all the Christian Churches in the region, and that of their Muslim fellow citizens too, from persecution by terrorists and oppression by the regime.

Here is Msgr Dagens' outburst in an interview on September 11 on Radio Notre Dame, in which he called for external intervention in Syria to bring down the Assad regime, which he describes as criminal, by force. In context, the implication of crime is associated with the Patriarch by Bishop Dagens, as will be seen below.

Here is Patriarch Gregorios' Letter of Complaint to Msgr Dagens of September 13, made public by the Patriarchate in Damascus once copies had been received by the President of the French Bishops' Conference, the Archbishop of Paris (as ordinary for Eastern Catholics in France), the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome, and the Secretary General of the Academie Francaise of which Dagens is a prominent member.

Msgr Dagens has questioned the financial and political integrity of Patriarch Gregorios. He said,
J'étais au Synode de Rome en octobre 2012 et j'ai vu tant de fois l'illustre Patriarche Laham, chef des Grecs-Melkites à Damas, se lever. Et lorsqu'il fut décidé qu'une délégation du Vatican allait se rendre à Damas pour rencontrer des chrétiens de Syrie et rencontrer Bachar el-Assad, le téléphone a fonctionné: le cher Patriarche Laham s'est entendu avec Bachar el-Assad dont on sait qu'il est un allié, politiquement et financièrement.
(I was at the Synod [of Bishops Special Assembly on the Catholic Church in the Middle East] in Rome in October 2012 and I saw the illustrious Patriarch Laham get up on several  occasions. And when it was decided that a delegation from the Vatican was to go to Damascus to meet the Christians of Syria and meet Bashar al-Assad, he was on the telephone: the dear Patriarch Laham gets on well with Bashar al-Assad, of whom it is known that he is an ally, politically and financially.)
Jean-Marie Guenois, writing in Le Figaro on 19 September, observes:
De fait, le projet d'envoi d'une délégation en Syrie - pas moins de 7 cardinaux devaient officiellement prendre le chemin de Damas - annoncé le 16 octobre 2012 par le numéro 2 du Saint-Siège, le cardinal Bertone, avorta. Ce qui sonna comme une humiliation pour le Pape Benoît XVI qui cautionnait ce projet inédit. Et qui fit perdre la face à la diplomatie du Saint-Siège.
(In fact, the plan to send a delegation to Syria - it was intended that no fewer than 7 cardinals should make the journey to Damascus on an official basis - announced on the 16th October 2012 by the number 2 at the Holy See, Cardinal Bertone, was dropped. This represented a humiliation for Pope Benedict XVI, who supported the unpublicised plan. And it caused a loss of face for the Holy See's diplomacy.)
In other words, the delegation was nor stage-managed for the regime by the Patriarch, since it was encouraged by Pope Benedict, nor was it undermined by the Patriarch because he had been part of the Synod that called for it.

Here is a translation of the Patriarch's response to Msgr Dagens.
Your Excellency, and dear brother in the episcopate, 
You have made grave and public accusations about me on air on Radio Notre Dame. Doubtless you have no idea how your defamatory words have wounded - and put in danger - the Melkite community so cruelly put to the test for many years. 
What a contrast with the concern of Pope Francis and the spiritual solidarity of my brothers in the episcopate and of many private individual French people, which is so touching. 
Furthermore, many Eastern Christians are keen French speakers and they have been dealt a particularly sad blow by the attacks of an Academician such as yourself. 
Legitimate differences of opinion on geopolitics do not seem to me to justify the act of violently undermining episcopal fraternity and of shocking a whole Church by attacking its Patriarch. 
As loud as I can, and resolute in the face of all the difficulties and tragedies of these last two years, I have not ceased to call for dialogue and above all reconciliation, as the only basis for Syria's salvation - something for which I am ready to offer my life in sacrifice. 
Always available to you to speak more of these things, I assure you, Your Excellency, of my prayer for peace, ecclesial communion, yourself and your diocese.

Gregorios III 
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
Here on his blog is the statement from Msgr Dagens, who complains of attacks on himself, while calling for "proportionate" armed engagement by the international community, with French involvement, in the Syrian conflict, from the safety of his throne in Angouleme, while Patriarch Gregorios is being shelled by rebels - as is the Orthodox Patriarch, and while the Syrian Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo are held hostage in mortal danger, abducted on a mission of peace-making in the spring, and while ordinary people on all sides, Christian and Muslim alike, call for peace, he end to injustice, and the ejection of the Islamist terrorists from Syria.
 
Here is a translation of the statement on 18 September:
 
Following the discussion he took part in on Radio Notre Dame on Wednesday 11 September, and the letter received from Mgr (sic) Laham, Melkite Greek-Catholic patriarch of Damascus (sic), Msgr Dagens, bishop of Angouleme, is concerned to issue the following statement:
 
My answer to the Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham will be, if he is a man of good will, with all the means available to him: put a stop to the tide of resentful and violent messages that I have been receiving for a week, following the discussion I took part in on air on Radio Notre Dame,  when I had occasion to mention the following realities: 
  • The historical relations between France and Syria 
  • The stranglehold of Syria on Lebanon 
  • The dictatorial nature of the present regime in Syria 
  • The terrible acts of violence in the civil war, leaving thousands of people dead and wound, Muslims and Christians alike 
  • My concern for the hard pressed Christian populations and my wish that there will be not going back for them to dealing with dictatorial regimes in their present or in the future 
  • My commitment alongside Pope Francis is so that the strength of the peace of Christ, who endured the Passion, may be stronger than all the acts of violence and hatred in our history.
+ Claude DAGENS 
Bishop of Angouleme 
Member of the Académie française

This statement evidently refers to Patriarch Gregorios in a contemptuous way, without a proper and filial respect for the Successor of Peter at Antioch. It fails moreover to refer to the terrible accusations of criminal association with a regime he variously describes as criminal, bloody and lying, or of political and financial involvement with President Al-Assad. We have no hesitation in describing it a self-serving disgrace and call for Bishop Dagens to withdraw unreservedly his insinuations and to apologise to His Beatitude with repentance.

From our encounters with Patriarch Gregorios on his visits to London and through the Melkite community in the UK, we can say that the person Msgr Dagens has described is not the man we know. Msgr Dagens is a privileged and eminent public personality in a secular, democratic republic, where speech is free and the personal liberty, equality and safety of the citizen is guaranteed. In Syria these are luxuries to be dreamed of. The situation for all citizens is immensely complex there, and Christians are caught in the middle. We can attest to the tact and diplomacy that is needed at every turn, the massive efforts of persuasion and bridge-building, dispute-solving, and the tireless peace-making that characterise this good and brave man. He is an inspiration to joyfulness in the crucified and risen Christ for his faithful in this moment, not just of adversity, but of systematic efforts by armed terrorists and invades to wipe out the 2,000 year old Christian Church in the Holy Lands of its birth. We know this from first hand accounts from Orthodox, Melkite and Syrian Orthodox sources. In such circumstances, Patriarch Gregorios is a Christian leader who has not been afraid to make himself unpopular in articulating the cries, the plight and hopes of his people as well as those of the whole of Syrian society, Christian and Muslim alike united in hopes for peace, freedom, mutual respect and common life.

At this moment, the Melkite Catholic Church in Syria needs to hear from the Roman Catholic Church around the world nothing but unequivocal love, support and union in prayer.

Patriarch Gregorios will be visiting London on October 19 to raise awareness of the situation in Syria and call on redoubled efforts for peace and support to the people of Syria, not least his Melkite Church. See older posts on this website, recording the true extent of the damage caused by the jihadists, and see everywhere on line the pictures and films of the persecution and martyrdom. He is visiting as the guest of Aid to the Church in Need and will assist at the Mass at 1030 at Westminster Cathedral.

 
 
 
 

Abducted bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi reported living - Vatican Insider

Abducted bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi reported living - Vatican Insider

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch shares pain of Syrian people with Pope

Radio Interview: Othodox Patriarch John of Antioch shares pain of Syrian people with Pope

And from Zenit:

Pope Francis Meets with Syrian Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Patriarch Youhanna X Yazigi Grateful For Pontiffs Support By Junno Arocho Esteves ROME, September 27, 2013 (Zenit.org)

This morning, Pope Francis met with Patriarch Youhanna X Yazigi, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East. The Syrian prelate informed the Holy Father of the continuing suffering of Christians in the nation. The situation is of particular difficult for the Patriarch whose brother was one of two bishops kidnapped in Syria. On April 22, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek-Orthodox Bishop Boulos al-Yazigi were kidnapped by unknown abductors during a humanitarian mission.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Patriarch Yazigi expressed his gratitude for the Holy Father’s concern for the people of Syria. “I bear in my heart all the pain of our people in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Middle East, and we consider the attitude of His Holiness towards our people, our Church in the Middle East, in Syria and Lebanon especially to push, to find solutions, to establish a peace through dialogue, not in war,” he said. Pope Francis’ recent call for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria, he said, was an important message to all, especially to world leaders to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Regarding the kidnapping of his brother and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios, the Patriarch have been unable to obtain any new information on their whereabouts nor on who is responsible for their abduction.

Patriarch Yazigi stated that he spoke not only on the abduction of his brother and the situation in Syria but also of the continuing dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. “We talked about our progression towards unity, Christian unity as you know, dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” the Patriarch told Vatican Radio. “We try, we want to do what we can do, all together – this is the desire of His Holiness, and our desire. And about this political situation, about the presence of Christians in the Middle East – it’s a very important issue now, because a lot of our people are leaving Syria or Lebanon for other countries, and we cannot accept the Middle East without the face of Christ.”

Speaking on a peaceful solution to the crisis, the Syrian prelate called on world governments, especially Russia, the U.S. and in Europe to help push for a solution in Syria through peaceful dialogue. Concluding his interview, Patriarch Yazigi stated that although he does not fear for his safety, there are still areas where it is difficult to minister or hold liturgies in Syria, especially in Aleppo and Homs.

Pope Francis meets with Patriarch John X of Antioch, brother of kidnapped bishop

Pope Francis meets with Patriarch John X of Antioch, brother of kidnapped bishop

SYRIA Maaloula Christians say town Muslims took part in attack - Asia News

SYRIA Maaloula Christians say town Muslims took part in attack - Asia News

Friday, 27 September 2013

Christians are being thrown to the lions again - Telegraph

Christians are being thrown to the lions again - Telegraph

Head of Uniate Church fears that closer relations with EU will have a negative impact on Ukraine's spiritual state / OrthoChristian.Com

Head of Uniate Church fears that closer relations with EU will have a negative impact on Ukraine's spiritual state / OrthoChristian.Com

UK's first state-funded Greek Orthodox secondary school opens in Barnet / OrthoChristian.Com

UK's first state-funded Greek Orthodox secondary school opens in Barnet / OrthoChristian.Com

ISLAM - CHRISTIANITY The resurgence of Islamic terrorism after the Arab Spring - Asia News

ISLAM - CHRISTIANITY The resurgence of Islamic terrorism after the Arab Spring - Asia News

International Conference on Reconciliation in Europe (Poland-Ukraine) to Be Held in Warsaw | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

International Conference on Reconciliation in Europe to Be Held in Warsaw | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Professor from Pontifical Greek College appointed to Pope's liturgical celebrations office :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Five appointments made to Pope's liturgical celebrations office :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

On September 27 Christians of the Byzantine Rite celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

On September 27 Christians of the Byzantine Rite (Julian Calendar) celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Ukrainian Treasure Kept in British Collection: Holy Doors from Pechersk Lavra

Ukrainian Treasure Kept in British Collection

Cardinal Boutros Rai: The behaviour of Western countries is shameful

Cardinal Boutros Rai: The behaviour of Western countries is shameful

The Eastern Catholic Churches at Vatican II - Course Online


"The Eastern Catholic Churches at Vatican II." ONLINE INTERNET COURSE (January - April, 2014.).
 
offered by The Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at Saint Paul University.

THO 6392: “The Eastern Catholic Churches at Vatican II.” (Prof. Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D., D.Th.)

This course will look at the Eastern Catholic presence at the Second Vatican Council, focusing particularly on the representatives from the Melkite Catholic Church. Each student will have an opportunity to focus and pursue studies related to any of the Eastern Catholic or Orthodox Churches at the Council. We will look at the contribution of the Eastern Christian figures on the various themes of the Council, explore how these affected the Churches following the Council, and what remains to be more fully implemented.

Melkite Catholic students are eligible for subsidy. For further details please contact the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at 613-236-1393 ext. 2332, 1-800-637-6859 ext. 2332 or email Julie Daoust (jdaoust@ustpaul.ca). 223 Main Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 1C4 / CANADA.

For those who are only registering in this course, no transcripts are needed and no admission fees will be charged. Please fill out the following registration form and contact Julie Daoust at the above number.

http://ustpaul.ca/upload-files/Admissions-Recruitment/documents/registration-form-special-student.pdf

 
 
 

ASIA/SYRIA - Fatwa of Ulema of Damascus: "It is legal to confiscate goods belonging to Christians, Alawites and Druze in order to buy weapons" - Fides News Agency

ASIA/SYRIA - Fatwa of Ulema of Damascus: "It is legal to confiscate goods belonging to Christians, Alawites and Druze in order to buy weapons" - Fides News Agency

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Metropolitan Volodymyr Makes P​ilgrimage to Italian City of Bari

Metropolitan Volodymyr Makes P​ilgrimage to Italian City of Bari

EGYPT Delga: after Islamist attacks, Mass is back - Asia News


EGYPT Delga: after Islamist attacks, Mass is back - Asia News

Hundreds of Christian families who had fled the city attended the service in the small chapel located inside what is left of the Anba Abraam monastery devastated by extremist attacks. The army liberated the village on 18 September after more than a month of Islamist occupation.


Minya (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Coptic Christians in Minya province are "taking back" their places of worship after a month of Islamist attacks and the imposition of the 'infidel' tax. Yesterday afternoon, thousands of people attended the first Mass celebrated in the church of the Virgin Mary in what is left of the Anba Abraam Monastery of to Delga (Minya, Upper Egypt).

This Sunday's service was the first since August 14, when Islamist s attacked Copts. The monastic compound devastated by the Muslim Brotherhood dates back to the fourth century.

Frs Abram Taneissa and Silwanis Lutfi conducted the office. On more than one occasion, the two Coptic Orthodox priests faced extremists, praying in the devastated nave of the church and bringing help to the families evicted from their homes.

Local sources said that yesterday's mass brought back hundreds of families that had fled Delga because of persecution.

They have returned not only to pray in their churches, but also to rebuild their homes in defiance of a military curfew and threats from extremists.

Recaptured by the army last Wednesday, the Islamist-held village has become infamous for the violent persecution of the local Christian community, which for weeks suffered all sorts of abuses, such as the destruction of 62 religious buildings and homes, abductions, summary executions, and the jizya tax "infidels"have to pay to the Muslim community to have their life spared.
 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Middle East Latin bishops thank Pope for peace efforts, push for dialogue in Syria

Middle East Latin bishops thank Pope for peace efforts, push for dialogue in Syria


September 21, 2013. (Romereports.com) The Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions closed off their yearly gathering in Rome. They discussed many important issues. But perhaps the most pressing were the Arab Spring and the situation in Syria.

FR. DAVID NEUHAUS, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, said,
“Unfortunately the bishop of Egypt and the bishop of Syria were not with us, which is already very evocative of the problems that we're living at this time.” 

With the gathering, the bishops celebrated 50 years since the foundation of the episcopal conference solely for the bishops of the Latin, or Roman Catholic, rite in the Middle East and East Africa.

The bishops discussed their unique pastoral challenges; as well as their work with other Catholic and Christian communities. Bishops also talked about the need for dialogue with other religions. But the biggest issue on hand was the Syrian conflict and the effect it has on their respective countries. 

FR. DAVID NEUHAUS, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, went on to say,
“The influx of Syrians into these countries has called the Church to give a very particular witness to Caritas, to a real care for those refugees coming. And through the Caritas agencies much work is being done in order to alleviate the suffering of those coming in.”

Caritas, the Catholic Church's aid agency, plays an active role in helping out refugees of any religion. The Latin bishops agreed to support Caritas as much as they can. But they also called on the international community to promote dialogue in Syria. 

In their statement, the bishops thanked the Pope for his continued efforts in supporting peace in the Middle East.

FR. DAVID NEUHAUS, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, remarked, “His call for a day of fasting and prayer for us in a certain sense seemed miraculous, when we think that before that day everybody was talking about just war, and after that day, everybody started talking about the need to have dialogue between the two parties.” 

The Latin bishops also asked “people of good will” to pray for the Middle East and the Syrian conflict. The Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions was founded in 1963. It's currently made up of 14 members representing Roman Catholics in the Middle East and East Africa.

Reportage: R Carr, Rome Reports/Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Friday, 20 September 2013

Pope Francis Writes to Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Pope Francis Writes to Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Nativity of Mother of God Celebrated in the Julian Calendar

Report from Ukraine: Nativity of Mother of God Celebrated

We wish all our Julian-calendar Orthodox and Eastern Catholic friends a blessed feast, invoking the prayers of the Mother of God for the peace, unity and safety of all the Churches of her Son, especially in Syria, Iraq and Egypt at this time
.

EGYPT Delga, Islamists threaten Christians: "When the army leaves we will destroy everything" - Asia News

EGYPT Delga, Islamists threaten Christians: "When the army leaves we will destroy everything" - Asia News

IRAN - UNITED STATES - SYRIA Rouhani calls on West to join efforts for dialogue in Syria - Asia News

IRAN - UNITED STATES - SYRIA Rouhani calls on West to join efforts for dialogue in Syria - Asia News

RORATE CÆLI: Another interview: abortion, same-sex unions, civil corruption - "diseases", represent "pseudo-values" of a "teenage" world

RORATE CÆLI: Another interview: abortion, same-sex unions "diseases", represent "pseudo-values" of a "teenage" world

Welcome

We are very pleased to welcome as a new author for the Society's website and book review editor Fr James Siemens of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family. Dr Siemens is director of the Theotokos Institute in the University of Cardiff, as well as parish priest of the Ukrainian Catholic parish in Gloucester. 


Communiqué from WCC consultation on the crisis in Syria — World Council of Churches

Communiqué from WCC consultation on the crisis in Syria — World Council of Churches

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Melkite Bishop Antiba: Keeo the faith in Syria - ACN

Keep the faith in Syria

Published 16 September 2013  |  John Pontifex, Aid to the Church in Need

Bishop Nicolas Antiba
A Syrian prelate – ordained a bishop only last month – has spoken of his dismay at the country's mass exodus of Christians but is convinced that the future of one of the world's oldest Church communities is assured.
Melkite Greek Catholic Bishop Nicolas Antiba of Bosra and Hauran described how his faithful in southern Syria were fleeing in their hundreds to the area around his bishop's house in Khabab following attacks which included the destruction of reportedly one of the country's oldest churches dating back to the 6th century.
Referring to the attack on the 542AD St Elias' Church, in Izraa, he said the exodus of Christians from Syria risked becoming as bad as in Iraq where most faithful left their homes.
Bishop Antiba stressed the urgent need for help both for displaced people arriving in Khabab and elsewhere, including food and shelter – a problem which will become more acute as the weather worsens.
In comments echoing those last month by Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, who ordained him bishop on 25th August 2013, the 67-year-old said the crisis is being exacerbated by the influx of fighters and weapons from abroad, which for Bishop Antiba are like "a cancer" threatening to destroy the country.
Bishop Antiba went on to reiterate calls for an end to plans for foreign military intervention in Syria, saying that his message to President Barack Obama is "leave us alone".
Amid reports that up to a third of the country's Christian population is now internally displaced or living as refugees abroad, Bishop Antiba said: "I believe – I know – that persecution will not destroy the Church.
"The blood of the martyrs gives new life to the Church.
"I have the hope that we will continue to live here as Christians. Yes, we will be fewer in number – just look what happened in Iraq – but I don't think the country will be left without Christians."
He was speaking after attacks earlier this month on the ancient Christian town of Maloula which was attacked and occupied by Jihadi groups.
Christians fleeing the town spoke of direct attacks on Christians and reports emerged that the fighters wanted "victory over the infidel".
Earlier, Patriarch Gregorios told ACN that 450,000 Christians in Syria – nearly a third of the total – had fled their homes.
Bishop Antiba said: "Christians are a peaceful people. They do not fight, especially in Syria where we have been living with tranquility without any problems.
"We are the people who have no way to fight. Instead we are a peaceful people who are the first ones who are attacked.
"Christians have suffered very greatly. We are still suffering. It is not easy."
He reiterated calls for the US and its allies to abandon options favouring a military strike.
The bishop said: "I hope that [the US and its allies] will leave us alone. If arms continue to come into the country, the situation will get worse. It is not Syrians who are fighting Syrians – those involved in the fighting are non-Syrians."

He said: "Instead of bringing arms into our country, bring peace. Arms are like a cancer – a foreign body that threatens to destroy us."
Calling on the US to keep out of Syrian politics, he said: "I would say to President Obama, you always talk about peace… please leave us alone and put these ideas of peace into practice.
"You have your own idea of democracy and it is beautiful but it is not necessarily our idea of democracy; let us work out our own idea of democracy."

Letter from the Trappist Nuns of Azeir, Syria, August 29, 2013


Today we have no words, except those of the Psalms that the liturgical prayer puts onto our lips in these days:


"Rebuke the Beast of the Reeds, that herd of bulls, that people of calves…oh God, scatter the people who delight in war…Yahweh has leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary, has looked down from heaven to earth to listen to the sighing of the captive, and set free those condemned to death…Listen, God, to my voice as I plead, protect my life from fear of the enemy; hide me from the league of the wicked, from the gang of evil-doers. They sharpen their tongues like a sword, aim their arrow of poisonous abuse…They support each other in their evil designs, they discuss how to lay their snares. “Who will see us?” they say. He will do that, he who penetrates human nature to its depths, the depths of the heart…Break into song for my God, to the tambourine, sing in honour of the Lord, to the cymbal, let psalm and canticle mingle for him, extol his name, invoke it…For the Lord is a God who breaks battle-lines! … Lord, you are great, you are glorious, wonderfully strong, unconquerable."


We look at the people around us, our day workers who are all here as if suspended, stunned: “They’ve decided to attack us.” Today we went to Tartous…we felt the anger, the helplessness, the inability to formulate a sense to all this: the people trying their best to work and to live normally. You see the farmers watering their land, parents buying notebooks for the schools that are about to begin, unknowing children asking for a toy or an ice cream…you see the poor, so many of them, trying to scrape together a few coins. The streets are full of the “inner” refugees of Syria, who have come from all over to the only area left that is still relatively liveable…. You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people’s faces, the good-natured gaze of a boy who is about to join the army and gives us the two or three peanuts he has in his pocket as a token of “togetherness”…. And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. … Just like that. Because “it’s time to do something,” as it is worded in the statements of the important men, who will be sipping their tea tomorrow as they watch TV to see how effective their humanitarian intervention will be….

Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in?

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!

A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?

The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.

The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”

And despite all our globalizations and sources of information, it seems nothing can be verified. It seems that there is no such thing as a minimal scrap of truth … That is, they don’t want there to be any truth; while actually a truth does exist, and anyone honest would be able to find it, if they truly sought it out together, if they weren’t prevented by those who are in the service of other interests.

There is something wrong, and it is something very serious…because the consequences will be wrought on the lives of an entire population…it is in the blood that fills our streets, our eyes, our hearts.

Yet what use are words anymore? All has been destroyed: a nation destroyed, generations of young people exterminated, children growing up wielding weapons, women winding up alone and targeted by various types of violence…families, traditions, homes, religious buildings, monuments that tell and preserve history and therefore the roots of a people…all destroyed. …

As Christians we can at least offer all this up to the mercy of God, unite it to the blood of Christ, which carries out the redemption of the world in all those who suffer.

They are trying to kill hope, but we must hold on to it with all our might.

To those who truly have a heart for Syria (for mankind, for truth…) we ask for prayer…abounding, heartfelt, courageous prayer.

The Trappist nuns from Azeir, Syria

August 29, 2013

‘Thank God, There Are Almost No Jews in Syria Now’ - the Plight of Christians and Jews in Syria | National Review Online

‘Thank God, There Are Almost No Jews in Syria Now’ | National Review Online

From Lela Gilbert

ASIA/SYRIA - Maalula, land of martyrs: death in odium fidei of the young Sarkis

ASIA/SYRIA - Maalula, land of martyrs: death in odium fidei of the young Sarkis

Syria now "a land of martyrs": National Catholic Register

Eyewitness Account of Three Christian Syrians Killed by Extremists

from Joan Frawley NCR/EWTN

VATICAN Pope: Syrian "tragedy" "can only be resolved through dialogue and negotiation". - Asia News

VATICAN Pope: Syrian "tragedy" "can only be resolved through dialogue and negotiation". - Asia News

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Monks of Chevetogne: We take refuge beneath your compassion (Под тво...



A prayer to the Mother of God for Peace in Syria

Francis calls for mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in letter to Al Azhar - vaticaninsider.lastampa.it

Francis calls for mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in letter to Al Azhar -...

The Al-Azhar University in Cairo – considered one of the most important centres of Sunni Islamic learning – has announced that Pope Francis has sent a personal message to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayyeb. The most important Catholic website in Arabic, www.abouna.org, published the commun...

EGYPT Curfew in Delga, a Islamist-held town where Christians cannot live - Asia News

EGYPT Curfew in Delga, a Islamist-held town where Christians cannot live - Asia News

IRAQ Patriarch Sako to Christian politicians : Be united for the good of the community and the country - Asia News

IRAQ Patriarch Sako to Christian politicians : Be united for the good of the community and the country - Asia News

Bishop Nicholas of Melkite Eparchy of Newton writes to President Obama exhorting him to peace

Reverend and dear Hierarchs, Fathers, and Deacons,
 
Please find attached a letter from His Grace Bishop Nicholas to President Obama 
 
In Christ our God,--
Rev. Deacon Paul J. Leonarczyk
Chancellor
Eparchy of Newton
Melkite Greek Catholic Church

CNEWA - A Dramatic Glimpse Inside “Jerusalem” - New Film from National Geographic

CNEWA - A Dramatic Glimpse Inside “Jerusalem”

Audience: Pope calls on Christians to pray for peace on September 21

Audience: Pope calls on Christians to pray for peace

Just a Memory Now: Ezraa's Christian community and ancient Byzantine churches

Picture of the Day: Just a Memory
www.cnewa.org
Just nine years ago, ONE magazine visited Ezraa, reporting on its Christian community centered on its ancient Byzantine churches.

IRAQ As death toll hits highest level since 2007, Patriarch Sako laments rising sectarianism, loss of unity - Asia News

IRAQ As death toll hits highest level since 2007, Patriarch Sako laments rising sectarianism, loss of unity - Asia News

VATICAN - SYRIA Nuncio in Damascus : The victims of chemical warfare and Pope's prayer hasten radical change in Syria - Asia News

VATICAN - SYRIA Nuncio in Damascus : The victims of chemical warfare and Pope's prayer hasten radical change in Syria - Asia News

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Russian Orthodox Church Seeks to Heal Centuries-Old Schism | Russia | RIA Novosti

Russian Orthodox Church Seeks to Heal Centuries-Old Schism | Russia | RIA Novosti

Syrian bishop says rebels have not sent one reassuring sign to Christians - Vatican Insider

Syrian bishop says rebels have not sent one reassuring sign to Christians - Vatican Insider

Tawadros II calls for the guaranteed protection of all religions in Egypt - Vatican Insider

Tawadros II calls for the guaranteed protection of all religions in Egypt - Vatican Insider

Patriarch Gregorios Appeals to the Leaders of Arab Countries

Please pray for the courageous Patriarch Gregorios, who in solidarity with his fellow patriarchs continues to live among and serve with hope the people of Syria, Muslim and Christian alike, Catholic and Orthodox alike. Pray for his safety: the patriarchal compound was hit with rebel shells twice on Thursday.


Protocol 428/2013D                                                                                                                                            Damascus

09/09 2013

                                                                             Appeal to Arab Countries

In the face of the tragedies that have befallen Syria over the last two and a half years, I see it as my duty now to appeal to you with confidence, Your Majesties, Highnesses and Excellencies, and with respect, appreciation and love at this historic moment in the annals of our countries, and of Syria in particular, by which I mean the threat from the United States of America, supported by the European Union, of a military strike on Syria.

I do not wish to enter into the question of the legality of the strike and its causes and justification, but I raise a heartfelt cry to Your Majesties: that they prevent the dangers and consequences that a strike on Syria would have on the whole region including neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine and Israel, as we do not know how far the conflagration might spread into adjoining countries.

I appeal to you dear friends, to stand shoulder to shoulder to spare Syria, and even our beloved Arab East, from the scourge of a strike, for we dare not call it war, in which all of us Christians and Muslims in the Arab world would be killed. We hope the whole world will heed the peace appeal launched by his Holiness Pope Francis. He told us: "War is a defeat for peace!"

We appeal to you, as we have said before, for unity and for a faithful free secular democracy in the Arab world, which is the real Arab Spring that responds to the slogans of demonstrators in the main squares of our cities, and meets the expectations and aspirations of generations of our young men and women, for liberty, dignity, pride and a bright future!

I pray for you all to make supplication for our blessed Arab land that I love, which is home to all of us Christians and Muslims, the land of civilizations and the cradle of religions, and the responsibility of us all, which lies especially in your hands, your hearts and your minds, and deserves all our sacrifices and our love.

With the assurance of our love and prayers

+ Gregorios III

Melkite Greek Catholic

Patriarch of Antioch and all the East,

of Alexandria and Jerusalem

 

Lviv Celebrates 650th Anniversary of Armenian Cathedral

Lviv Celebrates 650th Anniversary of Armenian Cathedral (RISU)

Ukrainian Catholic, Armenian Catholic and Roman Catholic join to celebrate with the Armenian Apostolic Community

West, East have much to learn from each other

West, East have much to learn from each other

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Attacks on Ma'aloula: From Patriarch Gregorios in Antioch


Words of reflection after the events in Ma'alula


4-7 September 2013

The events in Ma’alula represent an encroachment on the holiest and oldest Christian sites, on Christian heritage and the cradle of Christianity.

Each shell aimed at Ma’alula and Syria falls on:
  • Sacred sites
  • Saint Paul
  • Saint Thecla
  • The martyrs
  • Saint Marun
  • Four thousand Christians
  • The first Christian church dating back two thousand years
  • Christian heritage
  • Saint Symeon
  • Early Christian memory
  • The place where Saint Paul sojourned three years
  • Saint Sergius (Rasafa)
  • Daniel the Stylite
  • Moses the Abyssinian
  • Saint James the Mutilated
  • Ananias
The attack on Ma’alula is an attack on the holiest Christian sites and heritage, the cradle of Christianity.
 
So let’s go, not to the bitter end, but to the better end!
We can forgive everyone who caused the events - even the victims, abducted and wounded - in Ma’alula - but we say to everyone: Enough is enough! Enough is enough! Enough is enough!
 
Appeal of His Beatitude Gregorios III
Damascus 09/09/13                                                                                                                                                                
Peace for Maalula
That the residents of Maalula be able to return to their town before September 14, Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, is a demand Christians make of their Muslim brothers: I appeal to world opinion and all parties.
It will be a symbol that Syria is capable of love, reconciliation, dialogue and walking together and building together.
It will renew my faith in Syria’s spiritual heritage to the world: if every effort is made in solidarity in order to return the people to Maalula before the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross. And I'll be leading them in prayers and devotional hymns as they return home. First we’ll visit the churches, and then go to our homes.
I will be fasting all this week for this intention.
I hope to join many in a day of fasting and prayer in churches and homes. Indeed, I call on everyone to work for the return of all categories of people to Maalula, people of every shade of opinion whatsoever.
If we are all working for the people of Maalula to return, it means that we are all, despite blood, victims and tragedies, able to love and encourage hope in people's hearts and foster reconciliation, forgiveness and dialogue among all citizens. We will set a wonderful example for the whole world....
That would be a victory for the sacred values ​​of faith, for Christians and Muslims.
Long live love!
Long live faith!
Long live hope!
Long live Maalula!
Long live love in Syria!
+ Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
 

Syria: Diplomatic efforts are under way to find Fr. Dall’Oglio - Vatican Insider

Syria: Diplomatic efforts are under way to find Fr. Dall’Oglio - Vatican Insider

EGYPT Minya: wedding breathes new life into church destroyed by Islamists - Asia News

EGYPT Minya: wedding breathes new life into church destroyed by Islamists - Asia News

Days of Ukraine to be held in London, October 17-19

Days of Ukraine to be held in London

EGYPT - ITALY Mikail, a young Coptic who fled Minya: Christians persecuted by Muslim Brotherhood, but also Mubarak - Asia News

EGYPT - ITALY Mikail, a young Coptic who fled Minya: Christians persecuted by Muslim Brotherhood, but also Mubarak - Asia News

Friday, 13 September 2013

EGYPT Minya, Islamists seize a Protestant church and turn it into a mosque - Asia News

EGYPT Minya, Islamists seize a Protestant church and turn it into a mosque - Asia News

Melkite Patriarchate in Damascus shelled

His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios had said that yesterday two shells from the rebels had fallen in the courtyards of the patriarchate in Damascus. He is currently staying there.

We pray for his safety, the preservation of the Christian people whose church was founded 2000 years ago in what is now Syria by St Peter and St Paul themselves, and for the safety and peace of all the people of Syria: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

Beauty Unconquered - But ancient patrimony of Christian Syria and Egypt destroyed day by day

Beauty Unconquered | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Byzantine, Texas: A clarification on the status of the Monastery of Sinai

Byzantine, Texas: A clarification on the status of the Monastery of Sinai

Letter to Pope Francis from Patriarch Gregorios III on the Syrian Crisis

MELKITE GREEK CATHOLIC PATRIARCHATE OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST OF ALEXANDRIA AND OF JERUSALEM

Rabweh 10/09/2013

His Holiness Pope Francis
Vatican City


Most Holy Father

We wish to thank Your Holiness for your call to fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world. This day united in prayer people of good will of all faiths everywhere in the world.

Very many faithful responded to this appeal for prayer and gathered in our Cathedral of the Dormition in Damascus, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, Catholic hierarchs and clergy of other Churches.

Your Holiness’ call for peace has allowed the world to discover and hear the peaceable voice of the Gospel. To those who need it, those who do not recognize it and those who refuse to believe it, this appeal showed another way to resolve the Syrian crisis than that of weapons and military intervention.

Most Holy Father

Deeply touched by this initiative, as Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem, President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria (ACHS) and a member of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon (ACPBL) and Egypt, we ask Your Holiness to continue to accompany us along the way of peace by writing to the Congress of the United States, as you did for the G20 summit, to enumerate all the consequences of this proposed intervention in Syria, which will entail the tragic decline of the Christian presence in the Middle East. The example of the tragic consequences of intervention in Iraq is still with us in the form of thousands of Christian refugees in Syria who have no other refuge left.

Most Holy Father

We have great hope that such a message will succeed in convincing the undecided, give pause for thought to those in favour of war and a military solution and awaken the world’s conscience. Peace is the only condition that will allow the Eastern Churches to continue the way of the Synod for the Middle East and be Communion and Witness. Please accept, Your Holiness, the assurance of my respectful, religious devotion.


Gregorius III
Patriarch

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

SSJC President on BBC: Nobody's Suggesting Inactivity in Syria | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

English Bishops' Leader: Nobody's Suggesting Inactivity in Syria | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

SYRIA - VATICAN Nuncio in Damascus: Nationwide, Syrians of every creed and ethnicity pray with the Pope - Asia News

SYRIA - VATICAN Nuncio in Damascus: Nationwide, Syrians of every creed and ethnicity pray with the Pope - Asia News

Cardinal Sandri: Pope's vigil brought hope to those who suffer

Cardinal Sandri: Pope's vigil brought hope to those who suffer


SYRIA Maaloula: rebels break into the village homes, kill three young Christians - Asia News

SYRIA Maaloula: rebels break into the village homes, kill three young Christians - Asia News

VATICAN - RUSSIA - SYRIA Pope tells G20 leaders they "cannot remain indifferent", that they must push for negotiations in Syria - Asia News

VATICAN - RUSSIA - SYRIA Pope tells G20 leaders they "cannot remain indifferent", that they must push for negotiations in Syria - Asia News

VATICAN - INDIA Pope together with Syro-Malankara Orthodox to face the challenges of our time - Asia News

VATICAN - INDIA Pope together with Syro-Malankara Orthodox to face the challenges of our time - Asia News

Episcopal Synod calls for simplicity in word and deed | Deccan Chronicle

Episcopal Synod calls for simplicity in liturgy, word and deed | Deccan Chronicle

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Middle East: The great Christian escape - Vatican Insider

Middle East: The great Christian escape - Vatican Insider

Thousands heed Pope's call to prayer vigil at St. Peter's Square

Thousands heed Pope's call to prayer vigil at St. Peter's Square



FULL TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS' HOMILY
“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12, 18, 21, 25).  The biblical account of the beginning of the history of the world and of humanity speaks to us of a God who looks at creation, in a sense contemplating it, and declares: “It is good”.  This allows us to enter into God’s heart and, precisely from within him, to receive his message.  We can ask ourselves: what does this message mean? What does it say to me, to you, to all of us?

It says to us simply that this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the “house of harmony and peace”, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel “at home”, because it is “good”.  All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: the other person is a brother or sister to love, and our relationship with God, who is love, fidelity and goodness, mirrors every human relationship and brings harmony to the whole of creation.  God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other.  This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the world that I desire?  Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts?  Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations?  And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

But then we wonder: Is this the world in which we are living?  Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work.  But there is also “violence, division, disagreement, war”.  This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness.

When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict.  This is precisely what the passage in the Book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked and he hides himself because he is afraid (cf. Gen 3: 10), he is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh (cf. v. 12); he breaks harmony with creation, he begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him.  Can we say that from harmony he passes to “disharmony”?  No, there is no such thing as “disharmony”; there is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, fear ....

It is exactly in this chaos that God asks man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).  We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper?  Yes, you are your brother’s keeper!  To be human means to care for one another!  But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill.  What violence occurs at that moment, how many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history!  We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters.  This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war.  All of us!  And even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother.  Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists.  We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves.  As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!  Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death!  Violence and war are the language of death!

At this point I ask myself:  Is it possible to change direction?  Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death?  Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace?  Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone!  From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone!   Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond:  Yes, we want it!  My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross.  How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment!  There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death.  In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. 

This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace!  Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation.  Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter! 

May the noise of weapons cease!  War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity.  Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! ... war never again, never again war!” (Address to the United Nations, 1965).  “Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love” (World Day of Peace Message, 1975).  Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation –  these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!  Let us pray for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace!  Amen.

From the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia: Christian & Muslim Co-Existence Must be Strong

“We must strengthen the foundations of Christian-Muslim coexistence”, His Holiness Aram I

HRH Abdullah II of Jordan invited the Heads of Christian Communities in the Middle East to meet in Amman from 3-4 October 2013 to discuss the challenges they are facing as a result of the conflicts in the region.

His Holiness Aram I appointed Archbishops Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Armenians in Iran, and Nareg Alemezian, the Ecumenical Officer, to represent him and read his message.

After thanking the King for the initiative, His Holiness Aram I stated that he regretted the absence of Muslim Religious Leaders. Catholicos Aram I then identified some issues for the consideration of the participants:

1. Referring to the theme of the gathering "Challenges that Christians are facing today," the Catholicos said that the challenges arising from the conflicts affected everyone in the region, because the people of the Middle East are one.

2. As one of the Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches, he said that although historically Christians have sometimes disagreed on theological issues, they have always had a common mind on basic issues.

3. The moral and ethical values of Christians and Muslims, as two Monotheistic religions, are rooted in similar principles, which transcend political tensions.

4. Christians and Muslims have lived in mutual recognition and respect for centuries; their basic principles are founded on their common Monotheistic religious roots. Today, religious communities should not emphasize differences and incite mistrust and fear.

5. Referring to the centuries-long history and experiences of Armenians in Armenia, Cilicia and the Middle East, he acknowledged that there have been dark moments such as the 1915 Genocide of the Ottoman Turkey against the Armenians. However, he stated, the tragic series of events surrounding the genocide were due not to religious conflict, but to the imperialistic ambitions of the Ottomans. Lebanon today is a vibrant example where 18 communities, including that of the Armenians, continue living together.

6. Catholicos Aram I then identified the principles that should guide religious communities in the Middle East:

a) Living one’s own faith does not mean excluding the other, the neighbour of another faith.

b) No religion commends violence in any form.

c) Religions should not mix political goals and aspirations.

d) Mutual respect expressed through dialogue is rooted in the two religions.

7. In conclusion, His Holiness Aram I said, "Christians belong to the Middle East and are part of its history. They have contributed to its culture and civilization and have served as a bridge between East and West. Christians in the Middle East are committed to dialogue and peaceful coexistence; they are aware of their responsibilities and rights.”

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Statement from CCEE and CEC on the Syrian Conflict | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Statement from CCEE and CEC on the Syrian Conflict | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

MIDDLE EAST - JORDAN Gregorios III: "Arab Christians in dialogue with Muslims, against war in Syria" - Asia News

MIDDLE EAST - JORDAN Gregorios III: "Arab Christians in dialogue with Muslims, against war in Syria" - Asia News

Patriarch Bartholomew: Together with our brother Francis, we shall pray for peace in Syria - Asia News

ORTHODOX - VATICAN - SYRIA Bartholomew: Together with our brother Francis, we shall pray for peace in Syria - Asia News

For Patriarch Sako, the tragedy of war unites Iraq and Syria, calls for fasting and prayers for peace - Asia News

IRAQ - VATICAN - SYRIA For Patriarch Sako, the tragedy of war unites Iraq and Syria, calls for fasting and prayers for peace - Asia News

Holy See Press Office: PRINCIPLES FOR A JUST SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA

VIS news - Holy See Press Office: PRINCIPLES FOR A JUST SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA

WCC general secretary speaks on challenges facing Arab Christians — World Council of Churches

WCC general secretary speaks on challenges facing Arab Christians — World Council of Churches

King Abdullah of Jordan: Christians and Muslims are Allies against Sectarianism

http://www.aleteia.org/en/world/news/king-abdullah-ii-christians-and-muslims-become-allies-against-sectarianism-3692002?utm_campaign=NL_Thu%20September%205&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=How+Many+Masses+It+Takes+to+Become+Catholic

Friday, 6 September 2013

Syria: Islamists attack Christian town of Maalula - Vatican Insider

Syria: Islamists attack Christian town of Maalula - Vatican Insider

Vatican Diplomatic Corp Convene in Rome to Discuss Syrian Conflict | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Vatican Diplomatic Corp Convene in Rome to Discuss Syrian Conflict | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Week of Prayer for Syria: Day 7 | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Week of Prayer for Syria: Day 7 | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Not Ready to Change to Gregorian Calendar

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Not Ready to Change to Gregorian Calendar

Pope to world leaders: Lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution in Syria

Pope to world leaders: Lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution in Syria

COMPLETE TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS' LETTER

To His Excellency
Mr Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation

In the course of this year, you have the honour and the responsibility of presiding over the Group of the twenty largest economies in the world. I am aware that the Russian Federation has participated in this group from the moment of its inception and has always had a positive role to play in the promotion of good governance of the world’s finances, which have been deeply affected by the crisis of 2008.

In today’s highly interdependent context, a global financial framework with its own just and clear rules is required in order to achieve a more equitable and fraternal world, in which it is possible to overcome hunger, ensure decent employment and housing for all, as well as essential healthcare. Your presidency of the G20 this year has committed itself to consolidating the reform of the international financial organizations and to achieving a consensus on financial standards suited to today’s circumstances. However, the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places.

From this standpoint, it is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.

The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the twenty most powerful economies, with two-thirds of the world’s population and ninety per cent of global GDP, does not have international security as its principal purpose. Nevertheless, the meeting will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria. It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding. The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace. To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.

Mr President, in the hope that these thoughts may be a valid spiritual contribution to your meeting, I pray for the successful outcome of the G20’s work on this occasion. I invoke an abundance of blessings upon the Summit in Saint Petersburg, upon the participants and the citizens of the member states, and upon the work and efforts of the 2013 Russian Presidency of the G20.

While requesting your prayers, I take this opportunity to assure you, Mr President, of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 4 September 2013