Patriarchate News

On June 2, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, received His Holiness Irinej, Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma – Damascus.

His Holiness received the Serbian Patriarch, along with His Beatitude John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, at the main entrance of St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral, where the choir of St. Aphrem Patriarchal Scouts played music.

Their Holinesses and Beatitudes then entered the Cathedral in a procession with their Eminences and Graces the Archbishops, as well as the clergy.

In the Cathedral, Sutoro prayer was held.

At the end, His Holiness gave an address in which he welcomed his esteemed guest. He said “We welcome you on behalf of the faithful of our Antiochian Syriac Church, who kept the Christian faith despite the continuous hardships and persecutions, ever since they became Christians by the preaching of Sts. Peter and Paul, and till our days. And they witness to the Lord Jesus Christ by their deeds and by their blood; our church truly became the ‘mother of martyrs’”.

He added “we welcome you, on behalf of the citizens of this dear country Syria, who are still suffering the oppression of great powers and countries which helped terrorist groups… This reminds us of what you endured in your dear country in the nineties of the last century”.

His Holiness recalled the visit of the Serbian Patriarch to our Church in Sweden where he had the chance to meet with the faithful there. His Holiness added “those faithful long for the day on which we partake of the same one Eucharistic chalice, after the theologians of both churches agreed that we confess the same belief in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word”.

At the conclusion of his address, His Holiness presented to His Holiness Serbian Patriarch an Icon of the Virgin Mary carrying the Divine Child, as a token of mutual respect between both Churches.

In his address, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej thanked His Holiness Patriarch Aphrem for his overwhelming reception; he said “What unites us is love and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; we are one Church, although, sorrowfully, the historical circumstances had divided us”. His Holiness called for intensified efforts to reach the desired unity among the churches through “dialogue and agreements about all matters of faith and dogma”, something which the both “the Syriac Church and the Serbian Church yearn for”. He added that the Church needs unity “especially in these difficult times; our strength is in our unity, and our unity is not only in words but in serious action towards full unity in all spheres.”

His Holiness prayed for the Syrian people “who are suffering because of this tough war”; “We are following everything that is going on in Syria,” he said. Speaking about emigration and leaving houses and churches, His Holiness compared the situation in Syria and Serbia, “History repeats itself,” he said; “What Syria is suffering today, we have suffered in Serbia after the Second World War, where we lost more than a million people in addition to the destruction of churches and homes… History also repeats itself today unfortunately in Kosovo.” “However,” added Patriarch Irinej, “we have faith in the Lord who sees our suffering and will finally give victory to the truth”.

His Holiness Patriarch Irinej presented then to His Holiness Patriarch Aphrem an icon of the patron saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Afterwards, Their Holiness and Beatitudes put flowers at the memorial of the Syriac Martyrs of the Syriac Genocide Sayfo; they also lit the flame of peace. Then, they entered the Patriarchal Hall where they received the faithful.

Their Eminences Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Gregorios Saliba Chamoun, Patriarchal Counselor, Mor Selwanos Boutros Al-Nemeh, Archbishop of Homs, Hama, Tartous and Environs, Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education, as well as the Very Rev. and Rev. Frs., monks, and deacons of the Patriarchate and of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary, participated in the reception.

His Excellency Mr. Milan Vijatovic, Charge d’Affaires of the Serbian Embassy in Damascus, and Dr. Thuraya Bachaalani, Acting General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), were also present.

Click to view slideshow.
 

On June 2, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma – Damascus.
 
He was assisted by their Eminences: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Gregorios Saliba Chamoun, Patriarchal Counselor, and Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education.
 
During the Qurobo, His Eminence Mor Gregorios Saliba Chamoun delivered a sermon in which he spoke about the virtues of Christian life. He considered that an individual to be real Christian, he should abide by the Lord and keep His words and commandments.
 
On the occasion of the golden jubilee of His Eminence’s Episcopacy, His Holiness honored him and presented to him a Holy Cross as a token of appreciation to his long years of service, and wished him long healthy life.
 

On June 1st, 2019, upon the invitation of His Beatitude John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem Il, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, attended the official reception of His Holiness Irinej, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch, at the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus.

His Beatitude Joseph Absi, Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem, as well as their Eminences, Graces and Excellencies Archbishops and representatives of the Christian Churches, in addition to clergy, officials, and faithful, attended the reception.

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II was accompanied by their Eminences Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus, and Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education, Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, and Deacon Imad Syryany.

Prayer was raised in the Cathedral; then His Beatitude Patriarch John and His Holiness Patriarch Irinej delivered addresses in the occasion.

Click to view slideshow.
 

On May 26, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II consecrated St. George Syrian Simhasana Church in Pampra – India.
 
His Holiness was assisted by their Eminences: Mor Dioscoros Kuriakose, Metropolitan of the Simahasana Churches in the North of Kerala and Abbot of Malecuriz Dayro and Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education, in the presence of their Eminences Archbishops Members of the Patriarchal Delegation and of the Regional Synod in India.
 
At the end of the rite of the Consecration, His Holiness addressed the faithful saying: “My last word to you beloved children in the Lord [during this visit] is to pray and do not stop praying for the church, the spiritual fathers of the church, and every faithful, and for peace in our Church here in Malankara, that everyone may be able to worship freely, to declare his/her allegiance and loyalty to the Holy Throne, and that God may bring back peace and tranquility in our community here in Kerala”.
 

On May 26, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met with His Excellency Mr. Oommen Chandy, Previous Chief Minister of Kerala. They spoke together about the third Apostolic visit of His Holiness to India.
 

On May 26, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Georges Church in Malecuriz Dayro in Puthencruz, India.
 
He was assisted by their Eminences: Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Archbishop of Beirut, Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education, in the presence of their Eminences Archbishops members of the Regional Synod in India, as well as the Very Rev. and Rev. fathers, nuns, deacons, and a large crowd of the faithful of our Church.
 
During the Qurobo, His Holiness decorated Rev. Fr. Markose, Patriarchal Secretary for Indian Affairs, with the Holy Pectoral Cross in appreciation of his service to the Church.
 
At the end of the Qurobo, His Holiness addressed the faithful making it clear to all once again that “we will never abandon our people here in Malankara”. He added “We affirm our commitment to have peace and reconciliation between both factions of the Church as much as we can, and we will try to do that. But in case that doesn’t work, then you are going to be taken care of by your spiritual father and by the entire Church, because you are very dear to our heart and you are blessed members of the Church.”
 
His Holiness assured that the door for peace is still open, and will remain open, until an agreement that takes care of everyone and preserves the dignity of everyone, and the rights to have free worship and free conscience to be loyal to the Holy See that they want to be. However, His Holiness remarked “a time will come when that peace does not happen, when we see more grabbing of our Churches by force, when we see injustice done to our people, then a time will come when we’ll say enough is enough! We have to take care of our own and we have to strengthen our Church here”.
 
“The ordinary people, the young, the old, all of you, and from both sides” His Holiness illustrated “deserve to have peace of mind, peaceful worship, and peaceful places where you can go and worship God, deserve to have dignity for your beloved departed ones when the time comes for them to be buried.” He assured that “it is the responsibility of the leadership of both groups to come together, to sit, discuss, dialogue, and find the peaceful way of doing this”.
 
His Holiness emphasized that “as the spiritual father and patriarch of both factions, we want all of you to be in peace, to live together in harmony, and be able to worship in the Churches that your forefathers have built, and we want the entire Church, both factions to be in peace here in Kerala as a witness to the others, because when we are divided, we cannot witness to our faith and to the Lord. This is our wish, and this is our desire as the spiritual father for all”.
 
He restated that “while we respect the law and the courts of this country, we repeat again, the court may solve legal issues – issues about property, but they cannot solve the problem that we have in the Church here, what we need for this problem to be solved is faith and prayer from everyone: prayer is the best means for us to bring about peace and reconciliation”.
 
At the end, His Holiness blessed all the faithful who were present.
 

On the evening of May 25, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch arrived at Malecuriz in India.
 
He was accompanied by His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India, and their Eminences Archbishops members of the patriarchal delegation, and members of the regional synod in India.
 
His Holiness presided over ramsho (evening) prayer at St. Georges Church.
 
Then, he held the special prayer for the inauguration of the Inmates of Khanema Hanna Home.
 
The house was constructed by a donation by Karim family in memory of their late mother Mrs. Khanema Hanna (mother of His Holiness).
 

On May 25, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II arrived at the Patriarchal Center in Puthencruz.
 
He was accompanied by their Eminences: Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Archbishop of Beirut, Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Timotheos Matthew, Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education, as well as Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, and Rev. Fr. Markose, Patriarchal Secretary for Indian Affairs.
 
His Holiness and the accompanying delegation were received at the center by His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India, their Eminences Archbishops members of the regional episcopal synod in India, and a large crowd of clergy and faithful of the JSC in India.
 
After praying in St. Athanasius Church in the center, His Holiness presided over the regional synod of our Church in India, during which Church affairs were thoroughly studied and discussed.
 
Later, His Holiness met with the Working Committee, and then with the Managing Committee.
 
It was decided that the Committee of three archbishops assigned by His Holiness will continue to work as the Metropolitan Office. The Committee will choose one of their Eminences the archbishops to coordinate its work until the election of a new Metropolitan Trustee.
 

On May 25, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St Ignatius Nurono Cathedral in Manjinikara – India.

He was assisted by their Eminences: Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Archbishop of Beirut, Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Religious Education, in the presence of their Eminences Archbishops members of the Regional Synod in India, attended the Qurobo.

At the end, His Holiness addressed the faithful, commanding them to love God and their neighbor, for only this “brings to each of us peace and tranquility and therefore brings to the whole world peace.” His Holiness added: “the true church of God is the Church that teaches love, peace and harmony; this is our commandment to you, that you love God, and your neighbor – and your neighbor is every human being.”

His Holiness emphasized the importance of unceasing prayer in the life of the apostles and in the life of the whole Church, he said: “Prayers not only bring us closer to God, they teach us to be better Christians and to be good ambassadors and apostles of our Lord and Savior.”

He continued: “No matter how strong we think our selves are, no matter how educated, no matter how many great people stand with us, how many court verdicts come in our favor, if we do not pray and pray and pray we will not please God and we will not reach our goal of being good and faithful Christians and good disciples of Christ.”

“Many of us think that having money will get us favorable solutions; having power on our side will make us win; having shrewdness and cunningness and cheating will help us achieve our goal.. that’s not the case dearly children in Christ.”

“It’s only through prayers”, His Holiness illustrated, “prayers that perform miracles, we can stand in front of God asking to help us, and He will!”

His Holiness asked the faithful to pray “because I believe it is through prayer that God will help us to overcome our problems and to get out of this terrible situation that we are in; He told us to pray for those who hate us, who persecute us, and He also told us to come to Him – all those who have heavy ladens and who are troubled – to come and find peace and tranquility in Him.”

Click to view slideshow.
 

On May 24, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II presided over ramsho (evening) prayer at the Cathedral of Mor Ignatius Dayro in Manjinikara – India.

His Beatitude Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India, their Eminences Archbishops members of the accompanying delegation, and of the Regional Synod in India, as well as the Very Rev. and Rev. fathers, deacons, and a crowd of the faithful, were also present.

After the prayer, His Holiness addressed the faithful expressing his great joy to meet them for the third time, and congratulating them for the inauguration of the new residence of the Dayro.

His Holiness then spoke about the special situation of the Church in India, he said: “You are always in our prayers and in our mind; every single day we think of you and we ask the Lord to help us to find a solution for the problem that our Church is in”.

His Holiness added: “No one can tell in whom you believe and to whom your loyalty should be; this is something personally between you and your God, between you and the great memory of your forefathers who taught you the faith and who entrusted to you this great jewel of faith and loyalty”. He continued: “Of course we respect the court of this country and the legal system of this country, however courts and judges cannot judge the faith of people, they judge based on technicalities, they judge based in the facts presented to them and the information they were given, but they cannot judge your faith, your loyalty. It’s very obvious that we expect of you to respect and to obey the laws of these country; however, your faith, you decide it no one else.”

His Holiness illustrated: “we tried, and we gave space and time for this to happen, we took many initiatives, we wrote, we received many people, mediators, tried to set up meetings and to discuss the issues of the church, but unfortunately all these did not work”. However, His Holiness continued “we are praying and we are working for peace in our church, we want reconciliation, we want people to live in peace and harmony, to be able to worship their God and their Savior according to the age old traditions of their forefathers, we will do all that we can to bring peace and harmony to our church here”.