Patriarchate News

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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On October 29, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met His Excellency Mr. Peter Szijarto, Foreign Minister of Hungary, at the Headquarters of the Foreign Ministry in Budapest, in the presence of 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.
 
During the meeting, His Holiness and their Beatitudes spoke about the current situation in the Middle East, especially in the countries that have crises. His Excellency assured the Patriarchs that the Hungarian Government and people will continue their support to the Christians in the Middle East.
 
His Holiness pointed out that the churches played a very important and crucial role in supporting Christian families who were affected by the crises, especially in Iraq and Syria. The Churches helped by creating projects that aim at employing young people and hence limiting migration and strengthening their attachment to their homeland.
 
His Holiness was accompanied by Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.

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On October 27, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met His Excellency Mr. Alaa Ibrahim, Governor of Rif Dimashw, who visited Antioch Syrian University in Maarat Saydnaya.

Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Mor Yakoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, accompanied His Holiness. Dr. Rakan Razzouk, President of ASU, was also present.

His Holiness welcomed his guest and inspected with him the classes, laboratories and different sections of ASU. Dr. Razzouk explained the mission of ASU in preparing young men and women who are highly educated, skilled in their professions and ready to serve their country. His Holiness emphasized that the goal of Antioch Syrian University is to give to the Syrian society members who are effective and can lead the progress through their education as well as the qualifications which they acquire at ASU through the teaching of the highly professional teachers and the availability of the modern labs where the students can apply the theories they learn, expand their talents and produce creative results.

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On October 23, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a group of about 100 deaf people from the Association “Talking Hands”, at Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya.

The meeting was attended by their Eminences: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant and the Patriarchal Delegate in the Archdiocese of Aleppo and Environs, and Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya as well as Fr. Zuhri Khazaal, Priest of St. George Parish in Homs.

During the meeting, His Holiness welcomed the group and was briefed on their activities. A theatrical play was performed by the members of the Association using hand signs. After meeting each person and learning about their skills and talents, His Holiness blessed the group and prayed to the Lord to protect them and grant them health and spiritual joy.

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On October 23, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in the Closing Session of the National Encounter “Medium and Reconciliation” at Antioch Syrian University.

Dr. Rakan Razzouk, President of Antioch Syrian University, and Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour, President of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, and His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, concluded the session with a statement summarizing the major findings of the encounter as well as the recommendations that the participants discussed during the different panels of the National Encounter.

His Eminence Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, also attended the closing session.

His Holiness spoke about the service of reconciliation which is a holy ministry for the benefit of every human person, and of the society and the nation. He prayed that the institutions dealing with the humanitarian assistance would be more encouraged to enter into the domain of working for the reconciliation. He stressed that the most important step after this national encounter is to follow up and not loose time. At the end of his remarks, His Holiness hoped that reconciliation on the national level will bring forth fruits of peace and prosperity to the entire Syrian people.

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On October 22, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II visited the Art Exhibition entitled: “and the Fisherman is back” by Artist Mr. Haytham Shakkour at Mishwar Gallery in Damascus.
His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant and Patriarchal Delegate in the Archdiocese of Aleppo and Environs, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.

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On October 21, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II inaugurated the National Encounter “Medium and Reconciliation” organized by Antioch Syrian University (ASU), in collaboration with the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, at Hotel Sheraton in Damascus.
The inauguration was also attended by His Excellency Minister of Endowments Dr. Mohammad Abdulsattar Al-Sayyid. Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar for the Youth Affairs and Christian Education, Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant and Patriarchal Delegate in the Archdiocese of Aleppo and Environs, and Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya.
 
Dr. Rakan Razzouk, President of ASU, and Rev. Dr. Riyad Jarjour, President of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, as well as the Minister of Endowments, spoke about the role of Reconciliation in rebuilding the Syrian society after the crisis in Syria.
In his speech, His Holiness spoke about three aspects of reconciliation: the reconciliation with God, with others, and with one’s self. He alluded to the role of the organizations that help met the needs of the people; however, he underlined the fact that there is still a need to restore the moral setting that was before the war, and to restore the trust among the people in order to maintain the harmony of the society.
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On October 21, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received Mr. Hnein Kardous, member of the Parish Council of Saint Mary Church in Sao Paolo – Brazil, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma, Damascus. Mr. Hnein was accompanied by his brother Dr. Rafleh Kardous, Honorary Consul of Brazil in Syria.

 

His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus attended the meeting.

 

His Holiness inquired about the situation of St. Mary Church in Sao Paolo and the developments and activities in the parish. His Holiness conveyed his blessings and prayers to the faithful in Sao Paolo.

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