Statement by the Patriarchate of Antioch regarding the Holy and Great Council

The Holy Synod of the Antiochian Orthodox Church was held and presided by His Beatitude John X in its seventh extraordinary session, from May 25 to 27-2016 at Balamand.

The following archbishops were present:
– His Eminence Georgios (of Mount Lebanon and dependencies).
-His Eminence John (of Lattakia and dependencies).
-His Eminence Elias (of Beirut and dependencies).
– His Eminence Elia (of Hama and dependencies).
-His Eminence Elias (of Tyre and Saidon and dependencies).
-His Eminence Antonios (of Mexico, Venezuela, mid-America- and the Caribbean Islands).
– His Eminence Sergius (of Chile and Santiago).
– His Eminence Damaskinos (of Sao Paulo and all Brazil).
– His Eminence Saba (of Horan and the Arab Mount).
– His Eminence Georges (of Homs and dependencies).
-His Eminence Silouan (of Bouines Aires and all Argentina).
– His Eminence Basilios (of Akkar and dependencies).
– His Eminence Ephraim (of Tripoli and dependencies).
– His Eminence Ignatius (of France and south- west Europe).
-His Eminence Isaac (of Germany and Mid-Europe).
– His Eminence Joseph (Of New York and North America).
-His Eminence Gattas (of Baghdad and Kuwait and dependencies).
– His Eminence Silouan (of the British Isles and Ireland).
– His Eminence Antonios (of Zahle, Baalbek and dependencies).
The following bishops were also present:
• His eminence bishop Mousa al khoury.
• His Eminence bishop Nicolas Baalbaki.
• His Eminence bishop Athanasios Fahid.
• His Eminence bishop Dimitrios Sharbak.
• His Eminence bishop Costantine Kayyal.
• His Eminence bishop Ephraim Malouli.
• His Eminence bishop Nicolas Ozone.
• His Eminence bishop Gregorios Khoury Abdallah.
• Besides, the clerk of the synod Rev. Georges Dimas.

At the same time participated in the synod the following Fathers:
• Rev. Archimandrite Jacob Khalil (the abbot of the monastery of Balamand).
• The first priest Porfirios Georgy (the dean of the theological school).
• Rev. Dr. Bassam Nassif (professor at the theological school).
• Mr. Tarek Mitri.
• Mr.Hassan Rishe.
• Mr. Georges Nahas.
• Mr. Reymond Rizk.
• Mr. Carol Saba.

The following people apologized for not coming:
• His Eminence Paul (of Australia & N. Zealand).
• His Eminence archbishop Paul Yazzigi (of Aleppo & Alexandretta) was present in the prayers of the holy fathers of the synod, for being under in captivation.

After praying and invoking the Holy Spirit, the fathers of the Synod discussed the social and pastoral situation of the Church in most of the archdioceses of the Orthodox Church of Antioch resulting from the current situation of fighting and violence, besides the migration of many people and the worsening of the social and economic situations under which many people have undermined due to war and fighting. The holy fathers decided to intensify the pastoral work for the sake of strengthening the faithful and sustaining them in their land, as much as possible. They also emphasized the necessity of activating the developmental and humanitarian work basically carried out by the orthodox patriarchate, besides the archdioceses so as to reach as many in need as possible, and to console them. They also called out for collective efforts adopted by all the faithful for helping the needy in the current situation.

The holy fathers discussed all the details and documents of the Holy and Great Council which is about to be held on June 17 in Crete, under great changes that reach, as a result, all the Orthodox Churches, societies and believers.

The holy fathers emphasized the importance of the Antiochian active participation in the Holy and Great Council which had been prepared ever since the sixties of the past century. They also welcomed all efforts exerted so as to give the Council the chance to express the Orthodox witness which is one in the whole world. They agreed upon a common formulation of the Antiochian attitude concerning the topics which must be discussed on the agenda of the synod so as to reach the conscience of the whole world. They left the sessions of the Antiochian Synod opened for the sake of molding the final attitude regarding the Holy and Great Council under the light of what might happen concerning the peaceful and positive Antiochian initiative which His Beatitude John X expressed before the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who had visited His Beatitude last April, concerning the finding of a final ecclesial solution to the conflict with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The Holy Synod of Antioch formed a clerical and lay committee for the continuation of the efforts related to the Holy and Great Council, whose mission is basically foreseeing, studying, detecting all internal and external attitudes of the orthodox churches, to carry the recommendations in regard, to the Holy Antiochian Synod, and take the proper act and resolution before the beginning of the works of the Council, and for its sake. As concerning the minutes of the work of the Holy and Great Council, the holy fathers of the Antiochian Synod have decided to accept all the suggested moderations which the advisory committee appointed by His Beatitude has noticed and whose mission designates finding a clear formulation that takes into consideration the discussion of the synod in that regard. They also decided to form a media -Antiochian committee to cope with the works of the Holy and Great Council, and explain the Antiochian attitude towards all the discussed issues, form an Antiochian committee that reports and contributes to the formation of the Message which will result from the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.

The holy fathers of the Synod raise their voices very high for the serious endeavours of finding peace settlement in Syria, and for solving the huge human crisis which the Syrian people is suffering from, as a result of terror and sinful blowing and explosions that aim at its social composites. They also call on the international communities to intensify efforts and cooperate in order to contribute to finding common initiatives coordinated upon, that would lead to cease fire and putting an end to terror and violence which is destroying people and the infra-structure pushing the inhabitants of Syria to migration, and leaving many victims. Then, to move into the political and peaceful phase besides reconstruction of the country.
The holy fathers stopped at the tremendous human crisis that resulted from the migration of the people of the Middle East. They also discussed in details the efforts exerted by the archdioceses in the Diaspora, who are thanked a lot for the census and calculation of those who were forced to leave the country overburdened by the hardships and difficulties of migration. They highly evaluated the initiatives carried out by the archdioceses and congregations to lessen the sufferings of the migrants, and seekers of political asylum. They also called on the faithful people to work in solidarity and do their best to secure all the facilities they need.
The holy fathers reassured that any solution to this human crisis, must be based seriously upon reaching a cease fire and fighting in the Middle East, and especially in Syria, and settle justice, peace, and economic growth in the country.

The holy fathers drew the attention of the international public opinion to the issue of the 2 archbishops Paul and John who have been abducted for more than 3 years amidst clear international silence, the abduction whose impact has increased and brought more suffering on the churches and the believers therein , and has become harder than the crime of the kidnappers themselves.

The holy fathers called on the international communities, and human organizations, to exert more efforts to uncover the fate of the 2 bishops, and work to release them, with the rest of the captives.

They welcomed the democratic process that has accompanied the municipal elections and the village elections, in Lebanon. They also called on the elected members to fulfill their service with responsibility and honesty towards all the citizens. They also called on them to work on the developmental level in all the regions and to protect the environment and take care of all the problems of the people, especially the poor.

The fathers have highly evaluated the efforts the state exerted to help elections succeed. They also urged for more, so as to secure safety of all the citizens, and fight corruption, robberies, drugs, and that related to man trading.

The fathers repeated their call to the Lebanese in charge, to work on the immunity of Lebanon against all the crises that blow around the country, and to work more on the consequences that result from the institutional vacuum, and to be more responsible and sticking to the Lebanese constitution to elect a president who will be up to all the expectations of the citizens, to protect the state, and activate institutional work on the basis of the Lebanese constitution, and protect the Lebanese independence, unity, and territories, and be alert towards the dangers that result from resettlement.

The fathers have their Iraqi children in their prayers. They ask the Lord of peace to settle the spirit of his peace in Iraq, and quench all violence, and troubles whose bills the Iraqi people is paying.

The fathers briefed on the social, political and economic situation in Diaspora, especially in Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. They pray for the settlement they seek so as to decrease life difficulties, and open the way to receiving the pioneering role of these countries through the contribution of their citizens.

The fathers hinted at the efforts the people of Greece, with the state are exerting, besides the church of Greece, to take care of those who have run away from war and fighting, despite the financial and economic crisis of Greece.

The fathers also welcomed the common statement between Pope Francis, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Greece, concerning the refugees and migrants and those who seek political asylum. They called on the international community and the leaders of the world to use all they could to secure and help people to settle in their land including the Christians, and enjoy the right of living peacefully and safely.

The fathers evaluated the Havana statement between Pope Francis, and His Beatitude Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and all Russia concerning peace in the Middle East and the Christian presence in it.

They lifted their prayers so that the Lord may grant the spirit of peace over the whole world, and bless their children and protect them at home and in Diaspora, and overwhelm humanity with His divine mercies.


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