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 email@example.com for details.
Monday, 30 September 2013
LEBANON-IRAQ Patriarch Sako: Eastern Christians, United and firm in faith before the challenge of religious extremism - Asia News
Sunday, 29 September 2013
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.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
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.
Saturday, 28 September 2013
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.
Friday, 27 September 2013
Head of Uniate Church fears that closer relations with EU will have a negative impact on Ukraine's spiritual state / OrthoChristian.Com
International Conference on Reconciliation in Europe (Poland-Ukraine) 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)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
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
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
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.
Sunday, 22 September 2013
Christians of southern Egyptian town Minya get no respite after army wrest control from militants - The Washington Post
Saturday, 21 September 2013
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
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
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
Thursday, 19 September 2013
He said: "Instead of bringing arms into our country, bring peace. Arms are like a cancer – a foreign body that threatens to destroy us."
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
from Joan Frawley NCR/EWTN
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Francis calls for mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in letter to Al Azhar - vaticaninsider.lastampa.it
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...
IRAQ Patriarch Sako to Christian politicians : Be united for the good of the community and the country - Asia News
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
VATICAN - SYRIA Nuncio in Damascus : The victims of chemical warfare and Pope's prayer hasten radical change in Syria - Asia News
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Monday, 16 September 2013
The Coptic Church in peril: The Islamization of Egypt and the end of Egyptian Christianity – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Sunday, 15 September 2013
Ukrainian Catholic, Armenian Catholic and Roman Catholic join to celebrate with the Armenian Apostolic Community
Saturday, 14 September 2013
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
EGYPT - ITALY Mikail, a young Coptic who fled Minya: Christians persecuted by Muslim Brotherhood, but also Mubarak - Asia News
Friday, 13 September 2013
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.
His Holiness Pope Francis
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.
Thursday, 12 September 2013
ITALY - EGYPT Egyptian Coptic refugee finds comfort in pope's words after enduring pain in Minya - Asia News
Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Orthodox Christians and Holy Places in Syria: A Call to Prayer by Bishop Basil | lessons from a monastery
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
SYRIA - VATICAN Nuncio in Damascus: Nationwide, Syrians of every creed and ethnicity pray with the Pope - 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
Monday, 9 September 2013
Sunday, 8 September 2013
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.”