Patriarchate News

On November 26, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in the opening session of the 2nd International Conference of Christian Persecution which was held in Budapest.
 
In his speech, His Holiness spoke about the lack of interest of the international community in helping the suffering Christians in the Middle East. He added that there should be a support of the strong secular state where all citizens are equal as well as lifting the sanctions unjustly imposed on Syria.
 
His Excellency Mr. Victor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, spoke about the responsibility that Hungary took to support the Christian communities in the Middle East to remain in their homeland.
 
His Excellency Mr. Tristan Azbej, State Secretary for the Aid of the Persecuted Christians 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.
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Statement of the Regional Episcopal Synod of India
November 21-22, 2019 – Muscat, Oman

The Regional Episcopal Synod of India was held on 21 and 22 November 2019, at the Morth Shmouni Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Muscat, Oman, presided over by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East – the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, with the participation of 31 Archbishops – members of the Regional Holy Synod in India and their Eminences 6 members of the General Secretariat of the Holy Synod of Antioch.

His Holiness opened the sessions of the Holy Synod with prayer asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead the shepherds of the church in wisdom throughout the meeting. He also prayed for the health of His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India, thanking him for his leadership and devoted service for the Church in India during many years and especially in these difficult times. His Holiness thanked His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and the governing authorities in the Sultanate of Oman for the spirit of tolerance and religious freedom shown to our community, especially for facilitating the arrangements for convening the synod in Muscat.

His Holiness underlined the suffering of the faithful in India to preserve the apostolic faith and traditions handed over by the forefathers and their loyalty to the Holy Throne of Antioch. He affirmed that, even if only one person remain loyal to the Holy Throne of Antioch, the Patriarch will do whatever it takes to support and care for that person.

Mor Gregoriose Joseph, Metropolitan Trustee, gave an overview of the current situation of the Church in India, and the Archbishops expressed their opinions and discussed the matters related to the situation and present crisis in the church in India.

The Synod affirmed that whatever be the difficulties and the losses, the Church in India will uphold the apostolic faith and traditions and will remain faithful to the Holy See of Antioch and to His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

The Fathers of the Synod decided that the Dialogue Committee which was formed in the Holy Synod in 2015 during the First Apostolic Visit of His Holiness to India, consisting of: Mor Timotheose Thomas – Convener, Mor Gregoriose Joseph, Mor Athanasiose Geevarghese, Mor Theophilose Kuriakose, and Mor Coorilose Geevarghese, is still in existence and that they will make use of all possibilities for dialogue to resolve the issues and to achieve peace and reconciliation in the church in India.

In this regard, His Holiness and the Fathers of the Synod appreciated the initiative taken by the Government of Kerala by forming a cabinet sub-committee to resolve the conflict between the two factions of the church in India and the efforts taken by the Governor of Kerala for an amicable solution agreeable to both factions. The Synod affirmed their wholehearted support to and cooperation with the cabinet sub-committee and the Governor.

An Episcopal Advisory Committee was formed to assist the Holy Synod in taking appropriate decisions and actions for upholding the faith and the welfare of the church and to address the challenges that the Church is facing. The members of the committee are: Mor Timotheose Thomas – the Synod Secretary, Mor Athanasiose Geevarghese, Mor Theophilose Kuriakose, and Mor Coorilose Geevarghese. His Eminence Mor Gregoriose Joseph – the Metropolitan Trustee, will be the convener of the Epispocal Advisory Committee.

The Synod decided that, in emergency situations, all affected churches should conduct matters, especially legal affairs, with the knowledge and the consent of the present office bearers of the Church in India, namely, Mor Gregoriose Joseph – the Metropolitan Trustee, Mor Timotheose Thomas – the Synod Secretary, Clergy Trustee, Lay Trustee and Lay Secretary of the Church.

His Holiness appreciated the support of the general public and the media in Kerala as well as the leaders and members of sister churches and the people of other faiths in India in the struggle of protecting the churches and the cemeteries and the fundamental rights and human dignity of our faithful in India.

At the end of the Regional Synod, His Holiness thanked their Eminences for their spirit of unity, the commitment to the Holy See of Antioch and their sacrifices to preserve the true faith and traditions of our church in India. A special note of thanks was conveyed to the vicar and the faithful of Morth Shmouni Church in Muscat for making the arrangements for the meeting of the Regional Episcopal Synod.

 

On November 22, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at Morth Shmouni Church in Ghala – Oman.

In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about the important Regional Holy Synod which is convened to discuss the situation of the Church in India and the recent developments there. His Holiness then spoke about the annunciation of the angel to the Virgin Mary about the birth of the Lord and he pointed out the greatness of the mystery of God’s incarnation of the Lord and His love towards mankind.

His Holiness was assisted by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Gregorius Joseph, Metropolitan of Cochin and Metropolitan Trustee of the Syriac Orthodox Church in India and Mor Ireneos Paulose, Metropolitan of Kozhikod and Patriarchal Vicar in Oman, in the presence of their Eminences the Archbishops members of the Regional Holy Synod in India.

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On November 21, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II presided over the Regional Holy Synod of India, at Morth Shmouni Church in Muscat – Oman.

In the Synod, His Holiness and their Eminences discussed the current situation of our church in India and its future. Their Eminences the Metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox Jacobite Church in India headed by His Eminence Mor Gregorius Joseph, Metropolitan-Trustee, were present in addition to their Eminences: Mor Theophilus Georges Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, Mor Justinus Boulos Safar, Patriarchal Vicar in Zahleh and Beqaa, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Archbishop of Beirut, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk, Kurdistan and Environs, Mor Barthelmaus Nathanael Youssef, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Gulf, Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II delegated His Eminence Mor Yakoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of Monks and Administration of Mor Aphrem Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, to represent the Syriac Orthodox Church at the reception held by the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in Damascus on the occasion of the 49th National Day Commemoration.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II delegated His Eminence Mor Yakoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of Monks and Administration of Mor Aphrem Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, to represent the Syriac Orthodox Church at the reception held by the Indonesian Embassy in Damascus on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Independence of Indonesia.

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On November 18, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met His Excellency Mr. Victor Manuel Ziguensa, Governor of Peten at the Governorate Headquarters in Peten – Guatemala.

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.

His Excellency welcomed His Holiness in the presence of a delegation from our Syriac Orthodox Community in Peten.

 

On November 15, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at Ahuachapan in El Salvador.

 

In his sermon, His Holiness expressed his feeling overwhelmed by the warm welcome of the faithful in El Salvador which made him feel at home and assured the faithful that they have been in his prayers for a long time. He praised God for His marvelous work among His people whom He called and who are all dear to His heart. His Holiness added that the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch is where the disciples of Christ were first known as Christians and had under it faithful from different races and cultures and speaking different languages. In Antioch, the Church was first called catholic or universal. From it, missionaries from our church went forth and preached the gospel to the entire world, acclaiming the glory of God and the coming of His kingdom. His Holiness told the faithful that we feel the calling of God to be together with other churches, sharing the richness of our spiritual heritage abd fighting together the challenges that the world is placing on our way. Talking to the faithful about the persecution as a mark of the true church,

 

His Holiness conveyed the reality of the suffering of Christians in the Middle East which has always been engulfed in war and violence and where the Church has always been persecuted. However, he assured them that the faith grows and that the members of the church remain steadfast in their faith and firmly attached to the teachings of the forefathers. His Holiness saluted the people of El Salvador who have been going through tribulations and subject to violence which is a sign of a weak relationship with God. He concluded his sermon by praying to the beloved country of El Salvador and all its citizens and government. He asked the faithful to be good citizens in order to show that they are disciples of Christ and have a credible witness to His gospel.

 

His Holiness was assisted 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 Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern USA.

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On November 14, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at the stadium of a public school in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.
In his sermon, His Holiness expressed his joy for being able to visit this community who are beloved members of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. He told them that they should not think worldly and be afraid because they are a small community; on the contrary, they should be encouraged with God’s words to the little flock not to be afraid. They should always rejoice in the Lord Who is strengthening them and protecting them. His Holiness pointed out that the eleven apostles were alone and felt afraid; but when they received the Holy Spirit, they were able to courageously go forth and proclaim the kingdom of the Lord and make disciples to the faith. His Holiness affirmed that we are the children of God because we received the Holy Spirit and His gifts in baptism. He gave us victory of Satan and his powers, therefore we should not be afraid. He emphasized that every Christian should focus on his relationship with God and grow in the spirit by reading the Holy Bible, following the commandments of the Lord and praying constantly.
 
At the end of his sermon, His Holiness expressed to the people that he is proud of their loyalty to the apostolic faith and faithfulness to the Holy Church. He asked the Lord to give them courage to remain steadfast in the faith and work for the development and improvement of their societies and country.
 

On November 13, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at the rural area of Chel – El Quiche, Guatemala.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness pointed out that our Lord Jesus Christ does not just give us commandments and instructions of things He does not know about, for the Lord so loved the world that He shed His blood for our sake. He added that the Lord experienced hunger, thirst, persecution and death in order to save us from death. When the Lord called us to be His people, He promised us that we will suffer from persecutions and tribulations; but He assured us not to fear those who hurt the body but cannot hurt the soul. His Holiness emphasized that when we trust the Lord’s promises, we walk in the footsteps of our forefathers who were ready to become martyrs for the sake of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
His Holiness then spoke about the Sayfo Genocide which took place around one century ago where half a million Syriac-speaking faithful were martyred by people who could not accept them because they were Christians. Those martyrs refused to deny Christ, just like the martyrs of Chajul who gave their lives under the persecution during the war in the 1980s, refusing to give up their faith. He concluded praying the Lord to give all courage to be witnesses for Christ and able to bear testimony to His salvation of man to all the nations.
 
At the end of the sermon, His Holiness blessed a commemorative stone dedicated to the Martyrs of Sayfo and of Central America.
 
His Holiness was assisted 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 Dionysius John Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese for the Eastern USA. 

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