Patriarchate News

On November 6, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met His Excellency Mr. Elder Suchite, Minister of Culture in Guatemala at the National Palace in Guatemala City.
 
His Excellency welcomed His Holiness and the accompanying delegation and spoke about the different activities that his ministry is doing.
 
His Holiness thanked His Excellency and spoke about the importance of culture as a bridge between civilizations and a human way of communicating together and promoting human values.
 
His Holiness was accompanied by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Yacoub Eduardo, Archbishop of Central America, Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Western USA, Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nehmeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous and Environs, Mor Theethose Yeldho, Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese in Northern America, Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern USA, Very Rev. Raban Augeen Al-Khoury Nimat, Director of the Patriarchal Office in North America, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.
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On November 6, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met His Excellency Mr. Jimmy Morales, President of Guatemala at the National Palace in Guatemala City.

His Holiness thanked His Excellency for the warm welcome and spoke about the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and its missions that stretched throughout the ancient world. He mentioned the current range of the missions of the church and the universal character of its ministries. His Holiness also referred to the apostolic faith that was passed on through the ages and despite the persecutions, and reached us through the sacrifices of our forefathers.

His Excellency President Morales commended the role of His Holiness in promoting peace throughout the world. He listened to the overview of the work of the church in serving the flock of Christ. He wished His Holiness a pleasant stay in Guatemala during his apostolic visit to Central America.

His Holiness was accompanied by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Yacoub Eduardo, Archbishop of Central America, Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Western USA, Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nehmeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous and Environs, Mor Theethose Yeldho, Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese in Northern America, Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern USA, Very Rev. Raban Augeen Al-Khoury Nimat, Director of the Patriarchal Office in North America, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.

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On November 5, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II arrived to Guatemala City, starting his first apostolic visit to the Archdiocese of Central America.
 
His Holiness was received at the airport by His Eminence Mor Yacoub Eduardo Aguirre, Archbishop of Central America, and the head of the Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Guatemala. Crowds of people also came to the airport to welcome His Holiness and receive his blessings.
 
During his apostolic visit, His Holiness will be accompanied by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of the Western USA, Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nehmeh, Metropolitan of Homs, Hama, Tartous and Environs, Mor Theethose Yeldo, Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese in Northern America, Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of the Eastern USA, Very Rev. Raban Augeen Al-Khoury Nimat, Director of the Patriarchal Office in North America, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.
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On November 3, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Mary Church in Houston.
 
During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness was assisted by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Theethose Yeldho, Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of Northern America, Mor Severius Abraham, Assistant Metropolitan of the Angamali Diocese, and Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese of Eastern USA.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness congratulated His Eminence Mor Theethose Yeldho, the parish priest and the members of St. Mary parish in Houston for completing the building of their new church and spoke about the consecration of the church as a dedication of the entire congregation. After consecration, the building becomes a home for God and for all those who seek Him. His Holiness explained that this Sunday coincides with the beginning of the liturgical year and it is called the Sunday of the Consecration of the Church, where the entire creation is the church of the Lord which He sanctifies and makes holy. He mentioned the pillars of the church which are the apostolic faith and the teachings of the Fathers.
 
At the end of the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness offered the service of the saints on the occasion of the feast of Mor Gregorius Parumala. On the request of His Eminence Mor Theethose Yeldho, His Holiness bestowed on Rev. Fr. Paul Thotakat the pectoral cross.
 
Following the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness met the children of the Sunday School program in the parish and blessed them after answering their questions.
 
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On November 2, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in a Reception held in his honor and organized by St. Mary parish in Houston.

Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Theethose Yeldho, Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of Northern America, Mor Severius Abraham, Assistant Metropolitan of the Angamali Diocese, Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese of Eastern USA, Very Rev. Raban Augeen Al-Khoury Nimat, Director of the Patriarchal Office in Northern America, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director were also present.

Upon the reception of His Holiness, the vicar of the church and the clergy welcomed him and the accompanying delegation and traditional Malayalee dances were performed. Then His Holiness lit the lamp of peace.

His Eminence Mor Theethose Yeldho welcomed His Holiness expressing the love of the faithful of St. Mary Church in Houston and their eagerness to receive the Patriarch of Antioch in their parish. He added that the members of the church renew their loyalty to the throne of Antioch and to the faith of their forefathers. His Eminence Mor Severius Abraham also spoke about the role of His Holiness in strengthening the flock in difficult times and in affirming the strong relationship between Antioch and the Syriac Orthodox Church in India.

His Holiness opened his speech by blessing the faithful who are strongly attached to the Holy See of Antioch and he considered them to be the “heart” of the Syrian Orthodox Church. He remembered the honorable sacrifices that their forefathers made in defense of the apostolic faith and the church tradition. He emphasized that peace is built on justice and respect for everybody and that the only way to be true Christians is to allow the Lord to work in our hearts and lives because people see God through us and we are means for others to believe.

The reception was enriched by many cultural events performed by the children and youth, members of the Sunday School and youth movements in the parish.

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On November 1, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II attended a special gathering for the introduction of Suboro TV, held at Mor Aphrem Center in New Jersey- USA.
 
Their Eminences: Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of Eastern USA, and Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education also participated at the presentation.
 
His Eminence Mor Dionysius John Kawak welcomed His Holiness and the accompanying delegation and spoke about Suboro TV as a dream that came true. His Eminence emphasized that a channel run by the church is a necessity for the Syriac Orthodox Church to overcome the challenges of the diaspora and to reach the faithful who are spread throughout the world.
 
His Eminence Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub delivered a short presentation that included video clips of the work of Suboro TV and its diverse programs. He explained its mission and goals; he stressed that Suboro TV’s mission is closely connected to its name which means annunciation; indeed, it carries the Gospel (Good news) to every house and every viewer, as a preaching ministry with the aim of bringing the news of salvation to each person who watches it. He explained that Suboro TV is a purely Christian channel, the Voice of Antioch, spreading the Syriac Orthodox faith and broadcasting its tradition. He also gave an overview of how it works and the technological details of how it functions and how it can be installed in every home.
 
His Holiness also spoke about the stages of the establishment of Suboro TV; he raised some of the major challenges that it overcame through the support of their Eminences the Archbishops, the clergy and the faithful of the Church. His Holiness emphasized that he is making sure that the programs of Suboro TV continue to provide to the viewers the spiritual nourishment they are looking for and that is not offered by any other channel. He added that many programs are based on the liturgical life of the church and its traditions. At the end of the presentation, His Holiness answered the questions of the participants.

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On November 1, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received the Syriac Orthodox Seminarians who are studying at St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York.
 
The meeting was attended by His Eminence Mor Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Eastern USA.
 
His Holiness welcomed the seminarians and blessed them wishing them an excellent progress in their studies. The seminarians asked His Holiness some questions related to the theology and tradition of our Syriac Orthodox Church. His Holiness encouraged them to pursue theological education for the better service and ministry of the generations to come. He also encouraged them to particularly care for the youth, and to accompany them of their way to holiness and help them sanctify themselves in accordance to the purpose of the church in the salvation and sanctification of the believers. He warned them that they should not withdraw when tribulation or difficulties face them; he pointed out that the greater weapon against tribulation and doubt is to hold on firmly to the orthodox apostolic faith and the traditions of our church which we inherited from the forefathers. His Holiness emphasized that the Syriac faithful always held the church at the center of their lives and experienced the presence of God with all their senses, sacrificing a lot to keep her going and growing.
 

 

Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission

Communiqué 2019

The Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission held its eighth meeting from 28th of October to 1st of November 2019 at All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Cairo, Egypt.

The Commission greatly appreciated the generous hospitality of the Rt Rev’d Dr Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and the Rt Rev’d Dr Samy Shehata, Area Bishop in North Africa.

Following its agreed agenda for the official dialogue, the Commission resumed its work on “Authority in the Church”, which was begun in Dublin, Ireland in 2017 and continued at Atchaneh, Lebanon in 2018.

The draft agreed statement on “The Inheritance of Ecumenical Councils” was reviewed and amended. The meeting discussed new procedures on the reception of ecumenical texts adopted by the Anglican Communion and offered comments on them. The Commission further considered its work program for the year ahead, with the intention of bringing the agreed statement on “Ecumenical Councils” to fruition at the next meeting. Papers on “Bishops and Synods” were presented, representing the next stage in the agreed agenda, drawing on existing ecumenical agreements, while preserving the distinctive characteristics of this dialogue.

The Commission was received in audience and for dinner by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, in which he blessed and encouraged the ecumenical dialogue. He explained the unity of the Church as a symbolic cross with the four aspects of love, study, dialogue and prayer with Christ at its centre. His Holiness depicted the unity of the Egyptian people using the geographical form of the River Nile and its Delta as a praying figure with outstretched arms. The Commission was also received by Bishop Mouneer in his office and discussed its work with him and thanked him for his hospitality.

The Commission was particularly mindful that its meeting took place in Cairo, itself home to thousands of refugees from war and conflict in the region. The diaconal work of the Coptic Orthodox and Anglican Churches in Egypt was experienced by members of the Commission who visited the transformational work of the Coptic Orthodox Church with the Zabballeen (rubbish collectors) in the community and church in the District of Moqattam Mountain. The Commission also attended a presentation by Dr Maged Moussa, General Manager of Episcocare Egypt, a non-profit organization that constitutes the foundation for the care of Episcopal Social Services in Egypt. The members were made aware of the vision and mission of the work with some of the most marginalised communities and met workers and recipients of the programme, including Refuge Egypt, which offers healthcare, education and other meaningful support to the thousands of refugees who are embraced by the care of the Anglican Church in Egypt.

In response to two of the major crises facing our world –the degradation of the natural environment and the resulting mass movement of people- the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church in Egypt have both responded with vision and compassion. The work of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Mokattam centres around pastoral care for the inhabitants of the area, pioneering the recycling of waste and embodying careful stewardship of the environment. The work of the Anglican Church amongst refugees is similarly a local manifestation of the Churches’ response to the worldwide refugee crisis.

The Commission is drawn from many different countries and cultures and represents Churches which are global in their expression and outreach. In this global context, the challenges that face all our Churches are similar. It was both inspiring and encouraging to share and hear news of our Churches and communities around the world, and to hold one another in prayers of thanksgiving and support for all that God calls us to do for His world.

The Commission was genuinely heartened to receive news that the United States House of Representatives has passed with overwhelming majority resolution 296 that recognises the Armenian genocide.

As we meet, we hold in our prayers those who have suffered violence in Oromia, Ethiopia including our sisters and brothers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, praying repose for the departed, comfort for the grieving and support for all those impacted.

The Commission gave thanks for the opportunity of working and praying together in an ever-closer spirit of unity and love. The members of the Commission prayed for peace in the region, continuing to hold in their prayers the two bishops of Aleppo who were abducted in April 2013, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi of the Greek (Rüm) Orthodox Church of Antioch. The members of the Commission renewed their pledge to facilitate a fraternal, pastoral and ecumenical visit to Syria as soon as possible.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Commission thanks the Triune God, Father, Son, and

Holy Spirit, for the mutual understanding, fellowship and friendship that has been experienced and deepened and looks forward to the future in hope.

 

 

 

Present at the meeting in 2019 in Cairo

Anglican Communion

The Rt Rev’d Gregory K Cameron                   Church in Wales (Co-Chair)

The Most Rev’d Dr Michael Jackson               Church of Ireland

The Rt Rev’d Dr Samy Shehata                         Diocese of Egypt

The Ven Dr Edward Simonton OGS                Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev’d Stephen Stavrou                               Church of England

The Rev’d Canon Dr William Taylor              Church of England

The Rev’d Neil Vigers                                           Anglican Communion Office (Co-Secretary)

The Rev’d Dr Will Adam                                     Anglican Communion Office (Co-Secretary)

Oriental Orthodox

Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos of London, United Kingdom (Co-Chair)

Fr Dr Pishoy Wasfy, Diocese of Mississauga, Vancouver and Western Canada

Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

The Very Rev’d Fr Dr Roger Akhrass, Syria (Co-Secretary)

Armenian Orthodox Church – Holy See of Cilicia

The Very Rev Fr Hrant Tahanian, Lebanon

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, India

The Rev’d Fr Dr KM George, India

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On October 30, 2019, following the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary and in his presence, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, at the Buda Castle in Budapest.

Their Beatitudes: Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X, and Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Alexandria, and Jerusalem Joseph Absi also participated in the meeting.

His Holiness and their Beatitudes discussed the general situation in the Middle East with His Excellency President Putin and His Excellency Hungarian Prime Minister Orban. They emphasized the importance of support the presence of Christians in the Middle East as well as ways to promote their role in the respective societies.

His Holiness thanked Hungarian Prime Minister Orban for the support of Hungary for the Christians in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria, through the support of the local churches and the projects that aim at strengthening the Christian presence in the Orient.

His Holiness also thanked the Russian President Vladimir Putin for the positive role of Russia in Syria, especially in fighting terrorism through the military intervention to preserve the unity of the Syrian territory. His Holiness pointed out that it is necessary to continue the support by offering humanitarian aid to the internally displaced and those affected by the crisis in Syria. He appreciated the humanitarian cooperation with the local churches, offered by the presidential committee in collaboration with the Russian Orthodox Church.

His Holiness hoped that the case of the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim would receive more support from the international community in order to have their safe return to the Archdioceses in Aleppo. His Holiness also pointed out that the sanctions imposed on Syria need to be lifted because they are increasing the suffering of the Syrian people and negatively affecting the economy in Syria.

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On October 29, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and their Beatitudes: Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X, and Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Alexandria, and Jerusalem Joseph Absi participated in a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Budapest.
 
His Excellency Mr. Peter Szijarto, Foreign Minister of Hungary, opened the conference with a speech in which he spoke about the responsibility that Hungary took to support the Christian communities in the Middle East to remain in their homeland. He also spoke about the foreign interventions in Syria which affected the internal affairs of the country and gave false hope to the rebels who destroyed the country. He mentioned as well the terrorist organizations who are being fought in Syria, hoping that the international community will join forces in fighting terrorism so that it does not spread into the entire world. His Excellency also spoke about the program that Hungary Helps is providing in support of Christians and thus showing that actions are needed to help the Christians in their own countries overcome the difficulties in order to remain there.
 
His Excellency State Secretary for Aid of the Persecuted Christians Mr. Tristan Azbej, moderated the press conference and spoke about the compassion of the Hungarian Government and people in support of their persecuted brethren in the Middle East. He described the different programs of Hungary Helps in the Middle East and Africa; these programs are in solidarity with the local churches and aim at promoting the humanitarian assistance to all persecuted parties.
 
His Holiness thanked their Excellencies Minister Szijarto and State Secretary Azbej for their passionate help and their efforts to help the Christians remain in their countries in the Middle East. He mentioned that countries are mostly interested in the resources of Syria and do not genuinely care about the suffering people. He also expressed his disappointment at the massive fake information promoted in the western media which describe the suffering of Christians from their own perspective and according to their own agenda. His Holiness spoke about the different projects, especially Antioch Syrian University, which the Patriarchate is doing to encourage the youth to stay in their country, and to fulfill the mission of the church to be the light in the midst of the turmoil and darkness.

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