News from Syria

Al Maryamiyah Joint Appeal from Five Patriarchs of Antioch and All the East

17 6 2015

Al Maryamiyah Joint Appeal

from Five Patriarchs of Antioch and All the East


  1. On 8 June 2015, at the invitation of Greek Orthodox Patriarch JohX of Antioch and All the East, Mar Beshara Boutros Al Rai, MaronitePatriarch of Antioch and All the East, Mor Ignatius Afrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, primate of the worldwide Syriac Orthodox ChurchMelkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch and All the Eastof Alexandria and of Jerusalem and MarIgnatius Joseph III YounanSyriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, met at Al Maryamiyah Church in DamascusThe Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari and other Christian bishops in Damascus also took part in this gatheringThe following appealappeared at the end of this spiritual meeting:


To our dear Antiochian sons and daughters in the Lord


  1. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Gal. 1: 3-5)


First of all, we thank the Lord who has allowed us patriarchs to meet, and has entrusted to us the mission of protecting his Christian people in all the Antiochian East and here in Damascus, this blessed city which hosted Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles. From this flourishing Patriarchate, which down the years has always defended just causes, we raise our voices in unceasing prayer to God for you, because even in these dark days, “you lead your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ,” you bear witness unashamedly for our Lord Jesus Christ, who has “abolished death and brought life to light,” and you bear difficulties, trusting  “in the power of God” and armed with “the spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” We hardly need to ask you, dear children, to pray for us, your pastors, that the Lord may grant us the power to “rightly divide the word of truth” and glorify by our actions his holy name, as we steer the ship, which is the Church, in these historic existential circumstances.


  1. Turning to youwe should like to express to you our great joy that, thanks to this brotherly meeting, our exchange has been renewed and deepened and thanks to our co-operation is growing into a single Antiochian Christian witness, since the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch, (Acts of the Apostles 1126)where God has willed us to be his witnesses. Thereforein the context of your wholehearted loyalty to your own Churches, doctrines and teachingswe call upon you to help one anotherserve the poor devotedlyfind out about our Churchesspirituawealthdiscover the splendid holiness that it exudes, study our Antiochian heritage, pray for Christian unity and work towards that unity so wished for by the Lord, hoping that it will be realised in our societybeginning from Antioch.


We also appeal to you to bear your homelands in mind and in prayer, to ask determinedly for peace to be restored to them, for all our children to experience real joy and live together in the dignity “of the children of God.” Don’t forget to work for the unity of your countries, their modernisation and the establishment of civil status. Preserve diversity in all its richness and lose neither your own uniqueness nor your distinctiveness. Deepen your faith and witness to the “hope that is in you” in all areas of your life. Never use your faith as a divider or screen to hide the splendour and greatness of others.


  1. We invite you, dear childrento continue to remain on very good terms with our Muslim brothers and sisterswho are our partners in our homeland and its destiny and with whom we live in this land, sharing it amid current circumstances, despite these misfortuneof violence and terrorism, born of takfiri ideology and the absurdity of the wars that revitalise the interests of the great powers, which are exploiting religion bydisfiguring it. Our partners are aware of your sufferings and sympathiseThey are working with their religious leaders to eradicate completelytakfiri thought, which has won over and continues to recruit tens of thousands of human beings at every stageWith themwith the faithfulness of our faithful partnerswe raise our voices and declare that it is high time to confront takfiri ideologyto dry out its well-springs by teaching the kind of religious education that encourages an attitude of openness, peacefulness and freedom of beliefWe have to engage in critical thinking that will lead to the abolition of such phrases as the abode of war and non-Muslim subject in an Islamic State and establish citizenship.


  1. How horrid it is when terrorists use the name of God to serve their passions and interests and those of the great ones of this world! At present, when fear, violence, slavery of women, abduction, killing, destruction and forced displacement are prevalentgodless and pitiless criminals force people to convert.  They have not understood that God in his wisdom has created his worshippers in plurality. Such killers do not understand that in killing you they are being condemned to endless misery and their country to under-development. Amid this oppressive crisisdo not forget that the Lord promised, Fear notlittle flockfor it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12: 32) Indeed, dear childrenduring this difficult periodwhen we have reached the pinnacle of destruction and when people are dragged like lambs to the slaughter, be strong and do not despair.Be strong and powerful through the grace which makes good any failing. Practise “resistance of soul” based on purification, forgiveness and charity. Follow Gospel ethics. Trust in God who has conquered evil and death as he will not turn his face from you. He is your companion on the roads of displacement, departure and emigrationHe is your mainstay in povertyhunger and wantHe is your consolation when times becomeharshsuccour vanishes and doubt in Gods providence gnaws within.


He saves you when you are in tribulation. He is your guiding light amid the darkness of this world. He is your resurrection from despair and death. He is your victory over evil, its wiles and instruments.


  1. In these times of tribulationrally round the Church, which is the extension of Christ God in the world. Follow your Churchesfor a spirit ofpastoral responsibility compels us to redouble our efforts, working alongside people of good will and undertaking further requisite initiatives to keep our presence in our landcope with your family’s day to day needs and guarantee a future for our young peopleThey represent a vital, promising force in our homelandsWe express thanks and esteem to all the volunteers who have devoted themselves to charitable service in ourinstitutions. Rally round the ChurchImplore the intercession of the martyrs who have died to defend the faith. Follow the example of themartyrs who have undergone physical suffering to strengthen that faithPray for persecuted and abducted bishopsparticularly MetropolitanBoulos Yazigi and Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, both from Aleppoand also for abducted priests, such as the recently kidnappedFather James Murad. Support one another and share one anotherdistress and sufferingsjoy and tearsTake care of the poor in their distress, for they are dear to Christ. Console widows and orphans. Share your bread with the hungryAlleviate the suffering of displaced persons. Get involved in the organisation and social service of your Churches charity work. Give your time and money generously for the sake of Jesuss little brothersand sisters.


  1. For our Syrian children: now that the innocent and peaceful nation of Syria has fallen under the yoke of terrorism that the powers of this worldare using to remodel Syria, wipe out its civilisation, dominate its particularity and drive it out of its land, we confirm our attachment to this countrys unity and its citizens right to live in security, freedom and dignityWe call upon the world to work seriously to find a political solution to this absurd wind of war that is blowing over Syriaa solution that guarantees the establishment of peacethe return of abductees and internally and externally displaced personsthe Syrian nations right to self-determination, in complete freedom, far from foreign interference.


For Iraq: this country has absorbed the fallout from a succession of wars that have uprooted whole peoples from their ancestral territory, such as the events that took place last year in Mosul and in the villages and cities of the Nineveh Valley. Atrocities have been committed that remind the whole world of the barbarities committed in bygone centuries, but are now destroying antiquities with the goal of serving racist and denominational projects quite foreign to Iraqi civilisation.


As for Lebanon: the country is a message. We appeal to you to dedicate complete fidelity to it, to serve it and serve the interests of its people, elect a President of the Republic to restore legality to its constitutional institutions and finally work in order to build a country to gladden the hearts of all Lebanese.