Patriarchate News

On November 15, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, visited Maria Kokkori Down Syndrome Foundation in Greece.

They were accompanied by their Eminences: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, and His Grace Bishop Ionannis from the Church of Greece, as well as Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.

They were received by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Nicodemos Farmakis, Director of the Foundation.

The foundation is directly under the authority of His Beatitude and takes care of those who suffer from down syndrome.

His Holiness and His Beatitude visited the premises and facilities of the foundation and were informed about the work, activities, and programs in the institution. They also had the chance to talk to the sick and the supervisors taking care of them.

Very Rev. Archimandrite Nikodemos welcomed His Holiness and gave an overview about the history of the Foundation, and the service it offers, he stressed that the foundation takes care of a very sensitive population that the state is currently unable to take care of. He also prayed for the persecuted Christians and that peace would reign in the Middle East. He also emphasized the importance of working together to protect the religious freedom against terrorism and fanaticism.

At the end, a gift made by the people with Down syndrome at the foundation was presented to His Holiness as a token of love and respect.

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On November 15, 2018, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, met His Excellency Alexios Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece in the Maximos Palace in Athens in Greece.

His Holiness thanked the Greek government and the Greek people for hosting the refugees, and assured to His Excellency his prayers “that you remain united and strong for the sake of the Greek people and also for the sake of Christians in the ME”. He emphasized that “We need peace in our land, and we need to be able to live in dignity and equal citizenship”. His Holiness asked the help of the Greek government in the case of the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji. Finally, he spoke about the Antioch Syrian University wishing to have cooperation and support from Greek universities.

In turn, His Excellency assured that “we are following the dramatic events happening in Syria; the entire humanity is affected because the crisis has taken a worldwide dimension”. He also assured that “from the first moment, the Greek people embraced the refugee crisis, despite its heaviness on Greece”, for “I can imagine that Christians were on the frontline of those who are suffering”. “I would like to assure you” His Excellency stressed “that Greece will always stand by the Christians and wishes to play a constructive role without intervention in internal affairs”.

Their Eminences archbishops: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, His Grace Bishop Ioannis from the Church of Greece, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, accompanied His Holiness and His Beatitude.

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On November 15, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, met His Excellency Dr. Konstantinos Gavroglu, Greek Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affair, at the Ministry in Athens – Greece.
His Excellency welcomed His Holiness and His Beatitude. They discussed together the importance of education and the role of Greek throughout the history in transmitting knowledge and wisdom all over the world. His Holiness also spoke about the role of our Syriac Orthodox Church in translating the Greek philosophy and writings into Syriac and Arabic. He also talked about the number of Monks from our Church who pursued their higher education in Greece, and spoke about the opening of the Antioch Syrian University.
Their Eminences archbishops: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, and Bishop Ioannis from the Church of Greece, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, accompanied His Holiness and His Beatitude.
 

On November 14, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation of priests from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Greece.
The Reverend Fathers came to receive the blessing of His Holiness and humbly ask his prayers.
 

On November 14, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II St. Barbara’s Theological Boarding School of Apostolic Diakonia in Athens – Greece.

He was accompanied by their Eminences: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, as well as Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.

His Holiness and the delegation were received by His Grace Bishop Agathangelos, Bishop of the School, and Archimandrite Alexios, as well as the 65 theology students who live in the school.

His Grace gave an overview about the school and the role it plays in helping the students complete their theological studies.

His Holiness recalled the number of monks from our Syriac Church who lived at the school while continuing their Higher Educations in Greece.

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On November 14, 2018, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, met His Excellency Nikolaos Voutsis, Speaker of the Greek Parliament, in Hellenic Parliament in Athens, Greece, in the presence of number of members of the parliament.
His Holiness and His Excellency spoke about the situation in the Middle East, as well as the role of the Church in the relief and help of the suffering people in the M.E., and the role of Greece in helping the refugees.
Their Eminences archbishops: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, and His Grace Bishop Ioannis from the Church of Greece, as well as Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, accompanied His Holiness and His Beatitude.
 

On November 14, 2018, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, met His Excellency Prokopios Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic (Greece) in the Presidential Palace in Athens in Greece.
His Excellency warmly welcomed His Holiness in Greece, expressing his respect and love to the Syriac Orthodox Church.
His Holiness thanked His Excellency for his kind welcome, and for all the help Greece is offering to the persecuted people of the Middle East. He also wished that the economic crisis in Greece comes to an end soon so that the country can live in peace and prosperity again.
Their Eminences archbishops: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, as well as a His Grace bishop Ioannis from the Church of Greece, accompanied His Holiness and His Beatitude.
 

On November 13, 2018, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II was awarded an honorary doctorate in Theology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece.
The president of the university and the Dean of the Faculty of Theology bestowed His Holiness the doctorate, in the presence of His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, their Eminences archbishops members of the accompanying delegation: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, and a number of Their Graces Archbishops and clergy of the Church of Greece, as well as academic figures from Athens, in addition to the Academic staff of the university.
The president of the university expressed his happiness to bestow to His Holiness the honorary doctorate, assuring on behalf of the academic staff and the university their respect to His Holiness for the hard effort and service he is doing to spread the word of God, as well as to let the voice of all persecuted Christians reach the whole world.
His Holiness thanked the president of Athens University as well as all the academic staff, considering that the doctorate is an honoring to all the Christians of the Middle East.
His Holiness then gave a speech entitled: “Christians in the Middle East: Is there a Future?” He spoke about the history of Christianity in the Middle East, and in Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians. He then gave an overview of the situation under the pagans; he said “though peace and non-violence are characteristic of the Christian teachings, the world was not ready to accept that”. He then went to explain the situation with the beginning of Islam and how Christians made a positive role to the Islamic culture, especially in the translation of books from Greek and Syriac language in Arabic, and some of them held key positions in the local governments. “Nonetheless” His Holiness remarked “Christians did not always enjoy a peaceful life and a great degree of freedom under Muslim rule. At times, they were forced to convert to Islam; if they refuse, they were allowed to live on the condition that they pay a poll tax or Djeziah, often too high to endure”. He added “Despite the fact that Christians never took sides in any ethnic or confessional conflicts among the Muslims, they ended up paying the highest price because they are a peace-loving people who are commanded to love their enemies, reject violence and embrace peace at all times”.
His Holiness then described the Sayfo genocide which wiped out more than 2 million Christians: Armenians, Syriacs, and Greeks; he assured that “Most of the victims were killed because they refused to deny Christ”.
Then, His Holiness moved to talk about the new history, and the new genocides performed by groups of extremists and terrorists. He mentioned the suffering of the people of Mosul, who “suddenly found themselves in the streets of neighboring cities, jobless, homeless, and stripped of their rights to exist in the place where they were born”. He also spoke about the Syrian crisis, and the persecution of Christians, especially that some Christian villages such as Sadad were attacked by the terrorist groups; he considered that “This makes it very hard on the Christian communities to return to their completely-destroyed houses and to rebuild them; however, we are hopeful that the reconstruction process will slowly take place and the trust gradually rebuilt”.
He then spoke about the two abducted archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji.
His Holiness assured that “Despite all the adverse and hostile environment that they live in, Christians did not abandon their faith or deny their Lord, for they strongly believe that nothing shall separate them from the love of Christ”.
Finally, His Holiness made several suggestions to protect Christians in the Middle East: 1) End the wars and violence; 2) Equal Citizenship and Strong Secular Governments; 3) Interreligious Dialogue; 4) Building bridges with Muslim societies; 5) Reconciliation; 6) Advocacy.
At the end, His Holiness asked all to “pray for Christians in the Middle East. Pray that we may continue to live in our homeland, the land of our forefathers. Pray for those who are persecuted because of their faith everywhere. Pray for those who are helping their persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East in the relief and support of any sort”.
 

On November 13, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II arrived to Greece on his first official visit to the Church of Greece.
He is accompanied by their Eminences: Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.
His Holiness and his accompanying delegation moved directly to the Holy Archbishopric of Athens, where His Holiness met for the first time with His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, in the presence of their Graces Archbishops of the Church of Greece.
In his welcoming speech, His Beatitude warmly welcomed His Holiness and the accompanying delegation. He spoke about the history of the relation between the two Churches. He also spoke about the challenges that we are facing, especially with connection to keeping the Orthodox faith and identity, emphasizing that unity is the only way to face these challenges.
He pointed out that “the means of communication and cooperation available nowadays give us the opportunity to get to know more about one another, especially in these difficult times.” “At this time” His Beatitude added, “the great weapon in the hands and hearts of Christians is to pray together and for each other, and above all, to cooperate and unite in the face of the many current and common challenges they are facing”.
His Holiness then gave an address in which he expressed his great spiritual joy to meet His Beatitude in Athens, for the first time since His Holiness’s Enthronement in May 2014. He said that the aim of this meeting is “to share with our dear brothers and sisters that same good news (the Evangelion), and give witness to the whole world, of our faithful and serious work towards full communion between our two Churches”.
His Holiness recalled the history of relation between the two churches, and the several meetings which took place between the heads of the two churches since 1992. He also spoke about the academic collaboration between the two churches.
Then, His Holiness noted the progress of the ecumenical journey between the two churches, especially through the Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. He expressed his “fervent hope that we will be led by the Holy Spirit to together declare our full communion through the resumption of the bilateral official theological dialogue”.
His Holiness added: “We know, Your Beatitude, that we share the same vision of the Church of God as one Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 5:27), and one single flock (cf. Jn 10:16; 21:15) of the Good Shepherd, and His one Holy Body (cf. Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:27, Col 1:18; Eph 1:23)”. He expressed his “strong desire and readiness to look for new ways that will bring our churches even closer to each other, paving the way for the Orthodox world, to establish full communion”. “We believe”, His Holiness added “that this step will be a breakthrough towards the complete unity of the ‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’”.
Speaking about the severe economic crisis in Greece, His Holiness said “we unite with you in prayer for the good of the beloved Greek people”. He added “we are grateful to find the state, the Church, and the community – despite this crisis – stretching the hand of help and support to the persecuted brethren in the Middle East, especially the suffering Syrian people who continue to experience a new exodus from their country and seek shelter and refuge here in Greece”.
His Holiness pointed to the case of the two abducted archbishops of Aleppo Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim; he remarked that “the inaction of the super powers and the international community concerning this humanitarian issue is greatly bothering us”.
He concluded by asking the Lord Jesus Christ to “grant us to taste His goodness and celebrate our belonging to His one Church unified altogether around the same Eucharistic table of life”.
At the end, His Holiness and His Beatitude exchanged gifts as tokens of mutual love and respect.
 

On November 11, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met with His Excellency Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, at the palace in Ras Al Khaymah.
His Excellency welcomed His Holiness in the U.A.E., and expressed his pleasure to meet with the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.
His Holiness thanked His Excellency for his warm welcome, and showed his gladness towards religious tolerance in the Emirates.
During their meeting, His Holiness and His Excellency discussed various cultural and religious issues, and spoke about the history of our Syriac Church and that of the Arab countries.
The meeting was attended by their Eminences: Mor Osthatheos Ishaq, Metropolitan of Mylapore and Delhi and Patriarchal Vicar in the U.A.E., Mor Barthelmaus Nathanael Youssef, Patriarchal Vicar in the UAE and the Arabain Gulf, Mor Philoxenus Mattias Nayis, Patriarchal Vicar in Germany, and Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut.