Beloved faithful of our Archdiocese,
Two days ago we received a very important message from the head of our Antiochian Patriarchate throughout the world, our father in Christ, His Beatitude, Ignatius, IV, Patriarch of Antioch and of all the East. Due to the importance of His Beatitude’s message our ofﬁce has translated it from Arabic into English. We are sending it to you to be read from the pulpit and printed in your church bulletin.
Wishing you a most blessed Holy Week and a glorious Pascha.
March 14, 2012, Damascus
To all our Antiochian children in the Archdioceses overseas:
We greet you first as we begin the Holy and Great Lent, asking God to help lead us in our journey and in our spiritual struggle to deserve the participation in His saving suffering and rejoice in His triumphant resurrection crying, “Christ is risen, Truly He is risen.”
Second, while we write to you, we feel overwhelmed with pain due to the tragic events which are happening in Syria. As you well know, Syria is the land of the three monotheistic religions, and it has been an example of coexistence among all various groups of the Syrian people. It was in Syria where St. Paul received the call of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Syria also is the land of our historic Monasteries and Convents. Syria is the land where the bell towers of our churches embrace the minarets of our Mosques as evidence that true religion cannot be used as a tool for sectarian, racial, and ethnic conﬂicts; but rather, a wonderful way for every human being to experience the life of true love among all people. The events in Syria have left many painful consequences. Thus, all of us, as heads of churches, believe that dialogue is the only way which fulfills the dreams and the cherished wishes of the Syrian people. In the midst of these events, I recall what St. Paul said in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, “Who is weak and I am not weak? who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians 11:29). Under such circumstances we must above all express our national unity and cooperate to help all the weak, the suffering, the ill, and the needy brethren.
Therefore, we appeal to you, beloved children, from our leadership position, on behalf of all Syrians, asking you to extend a helping hand, each one according to his/her ability, so that we may present your offerings to all people equally regardless of religious affiliation.
We implore the Almighty God to strengthen you, asking you to remember your brothers and sisters in your supplications so that serenity and stability will reign again in our country, Syria. May the name of God continue to be glorified in the land of which has been the cradle of His message, suffering, and resurrection.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East