Patriarchate News

On February 2nd, 2020, on the occasion of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma, Damascus.
 
He was assisted by His Eminence Archbishop Mor Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Christian Education.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about the tradition of presenting the firstborns to the temple and its origins in the Old Testament. He mentioned how the Lord hit the Egyptians during Moses’ times because Pharaoh did not free the people of God and resisted His command; as a result, all firstborns were to perish. However, the Lord saved the firstborns of His people by the blood of the lamb, which symbolized the sacrifice of the cross which is the salvation of man. His Holiness also reminded the faithful of the important witness of St. Simon the Elder who was alive to see the salvation of God’s people and the prophecy which he found hard to believe, namely that the Virgin will give birth to a child.
 
During the Qurobo, His Holiness presided over the rite of blessing the candles according to the tradition of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.
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On January 28, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II visited His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, upon his invitation to the International Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, at the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Beirut.
 
Their Eminences: Cardinal Kurt Koch, Co-Chairman of the Commission for the Catholic Church, and Anba Kyrillos, Co-Chairman of the Commission for the Oriental Orthodox Family of Churches, as well as the members of the Commission, and His Excellency Mgr. Joseph Spiteri, Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, attended the meeting.
 
His Beatitude Patriarch Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan welcomed His Holiness and his guests. He spoke about St. Aphrem the Syriac, the Doctor of the Universal Church, and mentioned that the Catholic Church is celebrating this year the 100th anniversary of his declaration as a saint of the Universal Church. He also spoke about the importance of the theological dialogue in bringing the churches closer together.
 
After the reception, His Holiness, His Beatitude and their Eminences and Excellencies went to St. Ignatius Chapel where they prayed for peace in the countries of the Middle East. At the end of the meeting, the guests were seated to a banquet in their honor.
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On January 28, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in the Spiritual Summit held at the Maronite Patriarchate Headquarters in Bkerke upon the invitation of His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.
 
The meeting was also attended by their Holinesses, Beatitudes and Excellencies: Aram I, Armenian Orthodox Catholicos of Great See of Cilicia, Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory Bedros XX Gabroyan, Armenian Catholic Patriarch, Joseph Absi, Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Michel Kassarji, Chaldean Archbishop of Beirut, Bishop Cesar Essayan, Apostolic Vicar of Beirut, and Rev. Dr. Joseph Kassab, Head of the High Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon,
 
His Holiness was accompanied by Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.
 
Following their meeting, their Holinesses, Beatitudes and Excellencies issued a statement in which they expressed their relief to see ministers with expertise in their ministries in the newly formed Lebanese Government. They called for the fight against corruption and to retrieve the public funds, insisting on the right for peaceful demonstration. They condemned the chaos in the Lebanese streets. The fathers encouraged the international community to support Lebanon economically and financially. They urged the international community to work on establishing peace in the region and prayed for the safe return of the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim.
 
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On January 27, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met the Co-Chairmen and members of the International Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which holds its international meeting at our Syriac Orthodox Church in the Patriarchal Residence – Atchaneh, Lebanon.

After the evening prayer which was attended by the members of the International Commission, His Holiness welcomed his guests and highlighted the importance of the dialogue between the churches, its different stages as well as the progress it made in bringing the churches closer together towards unity in Christ. He emphasized the role of the apostolic churches in keeping the faith and the teachings of the apostles and the fathers. His Holiness prayed that the Church can remain the one body of Christ, Who is her head and high priest. He appreciated the work of the committee and encouraged them to continue their efforts to bring together the different traditions of the church.

In turn, the members of the commission thanked His Holiness for his hospitality and the Syriac Orthodox Church for hosting the meeting. His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Co-Chairman of the Commission, briefed His Holiness on the work of the Commission and the theme of their current meeting.

Their Eminences the members of the Commission from both the Catholic churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, were present at the meeting.

Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Theophilus Georges Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, Mor Theophilose Kuriakose, Patriarchal Vicar in Europe, and Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin, Patriarchal Vicar in the Netherlands (Observer), who are the representatives of our Syriac Orthodox Church in the commission, also attended the meeting.

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On January 21, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met his brother in Christ His Beatutide Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus. Their Beatitudes John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Cardinal Mar Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans, Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, Senior Pastor of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut, as well as Dr. Souraya Bachaalany, Acting Secretary General of MECC, participated also in the meeting.
 
His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II welcomed His Holiness and their Beatitudes to Cyprus, wishing them success in the meetings of the MECC Executive Committee. Their Holiness and Beatitudes discussed the current situation in the Middle East, especially the severe economic situation that is affecting Christians as well as their compatriots in all the countries of the Middle East. They hoped that the churches would be able to offer a common witness in these difficult times.
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On January 21, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and the Presidents of the MECC inaugurated the sessions of the Executive Committee of the MECC, hosted by the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus on behalf of the Orthodox Family of Churches.
 
His Holiness, along with His Beatitude John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans, Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, Senior Pastor of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut, as well as Dr. Souraya Bachaalany, Acting Secretary General of MECC, presided over the inaugural session.
 
After the opening prayer, Dr. Bachaalany gave a welcome speech in which she thanked His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Cyprus, and the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus for hosting the meeting. She also announced the appointment of Mr. Adel Syryany as the Associate General Secretary of MECC for the Oriental Orthodox Churches Family replacing Fr. Jimmy Danho. She also spoke about the working groups as well as the scheduled agenda of the meeting of the Executive Committee.
 
His Eminence Mor Theophilus Georges Saliba, Archbishop of Lebanon and Member of the Executive Committee of MECC, Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, and Mr. Adel Syryany, the Associate General Secretary of MECC for the Oriental Orthodox Churches Family, were also present.
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On January 19, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, along with their Holinesses and Beatitudes: Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East for the Maronite Church, Joseph Absi Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem, presided over the inauguration of the week of prayer for the unity of Christians, held at the Annunciation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Beirut, with the participation of representatives of other Christian churches.

During the prayer, the choir of the cathedral performed several chants and hymns. Then prayers were raised for the unity of the Church and for peace to reign in the hearts of all humans that they may be one as God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is One.

The prayer was attended by His Excellency Mgr. Joseph Spiteri, Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon. Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Theophilus Georges Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Archbishop of Beirut, and Mor Chrysostomos Michael Chamoun, Patriarchal Vicar and Director of the Patriarchal Benevolent Institutions in Atchaneh, were also present.

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On the occasion of the Feast of St. Anthony, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Aphrem Church in Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya.
 
Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Maurice Amsih, Archbishop of Jazeera and Euphrates, Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Christian Education, Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant and Patriarchal Delegate to the Archdiocese of Aleppo and Environs, Mor Yakoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, assist His Holiness in the Holy Qurobo.
 
During the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness tonsured the two seminarian deacons Charbel Rizk and Simon (Shemoun) Absim, and ordained them as monks.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about monkhood which the two new monks freely and voluntarily chose to become their way of life. He also spoke about the importance of prayer and devotion in the monks’ lives. He emphasized that monks always seek the salvation of their souls and should always pursue holiness and perfection following the Lord’s command.
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On the occasion of the New Year 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II invited their Excellencies the Ambassadors, Charge d’Affaires and Diplomatic Representatives of Foreign Missions in Syria to a Formal Reception at the Patriarchate in Bab Touma.

The reception was attended by His Excellency Dr. Faysal Mokdad, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, as well as the ambassadors or heads of missions of various countries.

His Holiness Patriarch Aphrem II welcomed their Excellencies in one of Syria’s homes, which is open for all and welcomes all. He said that it is a pleasure to welcome all of them into the established tradition of meeting at the beginning of each year. He wished everyone a blessed new year full of prosperity and peace. He said that this reception allows to reflect on the past year, in its happy and not-so-happy times. He affirmed that despite the insistence of many to create violence and war in Syria, good will is going to prevail and peace will reign again. He greeted those who offered many sacrifices for their countries and spoke about the sanctions imposed on Syria. He highlighted that these sanctions are causing the average Syrian people to suffer; however, he is hopeful that endurance will ultimately bring victory to the Syrian people and will help reclaiming the entire Syrian geography, united for all Syrians. He concluded by thanking their Excellencies and wishing them and their countries all the success and prosperity in this new year.

His Excellency Dr. Mokdad thanked His Holiness for gathering the diplomats in one of Syria’s house of God and hoped that all the peoples in the region will be united to lead humanity into the future. He assured that Syria is always optimistic about its future when the religious leader are preaching love and mercy to the Syrians. He addressed the ambassadors promising to facilitate their mission and hope they will also convey the real situation of Syria to their countries.

His Excellency Ambassador of Iran offered his congratulatory greetings to His Holiness and through him to Syria, hoping that this year will be the end of the crisis in Syria. The Russian Ambassador thanked His Holiness for underlining the role of Russia in fighting terrorism in Syria and promised to continue to make all efforts to eliminate war and violence from Syria. The Ambassador of Iraq expressed the common suffering of the Iraqi people and the Syrian people from religious fanatism which she considered to be a common threat to all the countries in the Middle East.

Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Maurice Amsih, Archbishop of Jazeera and Euphrates, Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Christian Education, Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant and Patriarchal Delegate to the Archdiocese of Aleppo and Environs, Mor Yakoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, Very Rev. Fr. Markose Abraham, Patriarchal Secretary for Indian Affairs, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, were also present at the reception.

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On January 15, 2020, on the occasion of the Feast of the blessing of the Virgin Mary on the Plantations, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II presided over the Holy Qurobo celebrated by Rev. Fr. Youhanon Yaacoub, at St. Mary Church in Damascus.
 
His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, also attended the Holy Qurobo.
 
During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness prayed the special intercessory prayer for the Virgin Mary, and spoke in his sermon about the different feasts that the church celebrates in remembrance of the Virgin Mary and seeking her blessings.
 
At the end of the Qurobo, His Holiness blessed the faithful.
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