Patriarchate News

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On March 6, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation from SOS Chretiens d’Orient and a group of tourists from different western countries, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma – Damascus.

 
In his word, as well as in answering the various questions of the delegation, His Holiness welcomed his guests and hoped they enjoy their stay in the country and get know the reality of the Syrian crisis. He stressed that what happened during the last eight years had nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people; rather, it was only for the profit of agendas and power struggles.
 
His Holiness hoped that the war is behind Syrians now. He assured that Syria needs a a strong government which gives the rights to all citizens and protects them equally. The New Syria, His Holiness emphasized, needs to ensure equal citizenship and respect to the religious and cultural diversity present in the society.
 
He also remarked that Christians have been weakened a lot in Syria, but before in Iran, Turkey, and Iraq. His Holiness noted the importance of Christians’ presence in the Middle East for all the components of the societies, for Christians are always peacemakers. This, His Holiness added, made the Church strengthen her institutions, and this is why the Patriarchate is executing projects in order to provide job opportunities, not only for Christians, but for all the components, for the Church always promotes good relations, and because this is an investment in the future of Christians in the Middle East, which is only possible through co-existence. He also spoke about Antioch Syrian University and its role in this regard.
 
His Holiness added that the abduction of the two archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, as well as other priests and Christian figures, aimed at targeting the Christian presence. This was also revealed through terrorist attacks against several Christians villages and regions.
 

On March 5, 2019, on the occasion of the visit of His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas Internationalis, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received His Beatitude Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch, along with His Eminence Cardinal Tagle, and His Eminence Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma, Damascus.
 
His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Very Rev. Fr. Youhanna Saroukhan, and Deacon Imad Syryany, attended the meeting.
 
The delegation was accompanied by Monseigneur Thomas Habib, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Damascus, and Rev. Fr. Habib Mrad, Syriac Catholic Patriarchal Secretary.
 
His Holiness welcomed his guests, and expressed his happiness to receive His Eminence Cardinal Tagle in Syria. They all discussed together the general situation in Syria and the Middle East, as well as the humanitarian work of the Church and Church organizations for the relief of all people living in trouble.
 
His Holiness and his guests also spoke about the good ecumenical relations between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, and looked forward for complete communion and full unity.
 

On March 5, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received His Beatitude John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma, Damascus.

His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Very Rev. Fr. Youhanna Saroukhan, attended the meeting.

His Holiness and His Beatitude discussed the general situations in Syria and the Middle East, as well as common Church matters.

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On March 4, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation from the national reconciliation in Homs, at Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya in Rif Dimashq.
 
The delegation consisted of Christian and Muslim Leaders from Homs. It was led by His Excellency Sheikh Issam Al Masri, Director of Homs Endowments, and Dr. Mohammad Khaddour, President of the League of Tourism Chambers in Syria.
 
The meeting was attended by their Eminences Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Mor Selwanos Boutros Al Nehmeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Environs, in addition to a number of the Rev. priests and Monks.
 
His Holiness welcomed his guests and discussed with them the general situations in the country. He praised their efforts in spreading the culture of love and tolerance in Homs, and looked forward for the day in which peace reigns throughout Syria. The delegation thanked His Holiness for his overwhelming welcome. They expressed their appreciation to the humanitarian and national positions of His Holiness. They also thanked him for his kind invitation.
 
His Holiness and the delegation, then, made a tour in the Monastery’s facilities, including Sayfo Martyrs’ Altar, Grotto of the Lady of the Holy Girdle (Zunoro), and the Great Patriarchal Halls of Mor Aphrem.
 
After that, they all moved to Antioch Syrian University (ASU), where they were received by Dr. Rakan Razzouk, President of ASU. His Holiness and the delegation made a tour in the university and were informed about the various departments and programs offered.
 
The delegation then visited the different projects being executed by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Saydnaya, namely Melkart Pharmaceutical Factory, Little Angel’s House Orphanage, and the Holy Cross Monastery.
 
A banquet was then offered by the patriarchate in honor of the delegation.
 

On February 28, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received His Eminence Mor Gregorius Joseph, Archbishop of Cochin in India, at the Patriarchal Residence in Atchaneh – Lebanon.
 
His Holiness and His Eminence discussed general Indian Church matters.
 

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On February 26, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received His Excellency Mr. Miguel Porto Parga, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in Syria and Jordan, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma – Damascus.

 
The meeting was attended by His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.
 
His Holiness and His excellency discussed the general situation in the country.
 

On February 22, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation from the Lutheran World Federation, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma, Damascus.
 
The delegation was led by His Grace Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
 
His Holiness discussed with his guests the general situation in Syria and means of helping Christians in need.
 
The meeting was attended by Mr. Shadi Sarweh, Executive Director of St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee.
 

On February 21, 2019, for the occasion of the commemoration of St. Severus the Great, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Severus Church in the Patriarchal Residence, Atchaneh – Lebanon.
 
His Eminence Mor Chrysostomos Mikhael Chamoun, Patriarchal Vicar and Director of the Patriarchal Benevolent Institutions in Atchaneh, as well as the monks, nuns, deacons, and a crowd of faithful attended the Holy Qurobo.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about the life of St. Severus, and how he endured all persecutions for the sake of Christ and His Holy Church. His Holiness added that we should take from St. Severus an example for our lives, that we may endure for our faith and witness to our Master and Lord Jesus Christ.
 
During the Qurobo, His Holiness presided over the Service of the Saints, and made a procession for the relics of the Saint which are kept at his Church in Atchaneh.
 
At the end of the Qurobo, His Holiness and all who were present took blessings from the relics.
 
St. Severus Church in Atchaneh was consecrated last June for the 1500 Jubilee of the Exile of Patriarch Mor Severus the Great to Egypt. Their Holinesses Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, and Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, participated with His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II in the consecration of the Church. Pope Tawadros II brought with him part of the relics of St. Severus kept in Egypt, as a symbol of the Saint’s return to Antioch after 15 centuries.
 

The Second session of the Commission for Bilateral Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church took place in the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Residence in Atchaneh – Lebanon, on February 18–19, 2019, hosted by the Syriac Orthodox Church. It was chaired jointly by His Grace Bishop Flavian of Cherepovets and Belozersk, and by His Eminence Archbishop Mor Chrysostomos Mikhael Chamoun, Patriarchal Vicar and Director of the Patriarchal Benevolent Institutions in Atchaneh.
 
The Syriac Orthodox Church was represented besides His Eminence by: Very Rev. Raban Jack Yakoub, Director of the Patriarchal Youth Department, Very Rev. Raban Roger-Youssef Akhrass, Director of the Department of Syriac Studies, Deacon Imad Syryany, Staff member of the Patriarchal Secretariat, and Mr. Shadi Sarweh, Executive Director of St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee.
 
The Commission was informed about the actions taken on the various spheres covered by the dialogue, over the last year and a half, following the first session held in Cherepovets (December 8–9, 2017). Representatives also discussed new items of common interest.
 
On the humanitarian level, the Commission highly appreciated the growing cooperation between the Russian Working Group and St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee (EPDC), and discussed new common projects and additional collaboration.
 
Academically, representatives discussed starting a student exchange program for Theological Studies. In addition, It was agreed on the further mutual participation in academic and theological conferences. The Russian Orthodox Church congratulated the Syriac Orthodox Church for the opening of its new university, namely Antioch Syrian University.
 
On the youth level, collaboration between the direction of the Synodal Youth Department of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Syriac Patriarchal Youth Department is to be established, and youth from both Churches are expected to participate in youth activities organized by each department.
 
The Commission also discussed the concrete perspectives of developing contacts between the two Churches’ monastic communities, and the possibility of organizing pilgrimage tours to the major Christian sites of both Churches.
 
Representatives also studied possibilities of enforcing collaboration and exchange of the official positions of both Churches on certain public issues of common interest. Further cooperation in the cultural sphere was also discussed.
 
Finally, the members of the Commission expressed gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II for the cordial hospitality extended.
 

February 17, 2019 – Munich
His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II asked during a panel discussion about the situation in Syria at Munich Security Conference: What is the interest of the Syrian people in what happened to our country Syria? He expressed his surprise that Syrian affairs are being discussed at the panel in the absence of representatives from Syria.
 
During the panel which was attended by representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the United States of America and Russia as well as the Ministers of Defense of Lebanon and Turkey, His Holiness noted that one of the premises and promises of the so-called Arabic Spring in the Middle East was to usher in a new era of democracy where people have the right to decide their own future and way of governance. He asked: Why are the Syrians thus prohibited from deciding their own future?
His Holiness pointed out to the humanitarian tragedy and great suffering which the Syrian people are living as a result of the unilateral sanctions which were illegally imposed by some countries.
 
His Holiness emphasized the necessity of a political solution for the crisis in Syria, ensuring the return of all refugees and internally displaced people. He also asked the help of all parties involved in the Syrian conflict regarding the following main topics:
1- The case of the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim.
2- Lifting the illegal unilateral sanctions imposed on the Syrian people.
3- Giving the Syrian people the right to decide their future.