Patriarchate News

13 March 2018, Arusha, Tanzania: H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and all the Eaar, the supreme head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church speaks during the Embracing the Cross plenary. From 8-13 March 2018, the World Council of Churches organizes the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania. The conference is themed “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship”, and is part of a long tradition of similar conferences, organized every decade.

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in the closing session at the Conference of “World Mission and Evangelism”, organized by World Council of Churches (WCC) in Arusha – TANZANIA.

During the session, His Holiness gave the Keynote Speech entitled: “Embracing the Cross.”

He emphasized that “the mission of the Church is the salvation of the souls. Therefore, the universal Church constantly seeks to spread the gospel of Christ among all the nations, in order for the world “to know Christ and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3: 10), so they may believe in Him as the Savior and Redeemer.”

His Holiness added that “in Christianity, “God is Love” (I John 4:8); therefore, Christians’ mission is to spread the culture of love among all those who are around them. It is the love for God, reflected in the love of the neighbor.” He said that “Christians are called to love their neighbor, without personal profit of any sort. It is the love based on self-sacrifice, emptying one’s self, and giving unconditionally […] Thus, we understand the mission of the Church to be that of ministering to the world in order to sanctify it.”

His Holiness then talked about discipleship, he said that “In Christianity, we are called to be true disciples of Christ” and that “we aspire to imitate the Lord.” He then drew the attention to the fact that “with witnessing to the Lord both in word and in deed, comes persecution and tribulation” and that “Christianity is not welcomed in the world because it puts people out of their comfort zone. It challenges their worldly philosophical convictions with the simplicity of faith.”

He then spoke about the many tribulations and genocides that the Syriac Orthodox Church faced throughout the centuries; “Some 100 years ago, a massive genocide took place in the Ottoman Empire aiming at eliminating Christianity from the land of its birthplace” he said, and continued “Today, we continue to suffer persecution at the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Nusra and others, who are targeting Christian congregations and completely destroyed many of our churches and other institutions.”

However, he said “the Syriac Orthodox Church, as a witness of Christ, along with the other sister churches, is trying to offer hope to all the victims of such barbaric behavior.”

His Holiness considered that “our presence is a necessity not only for Christianity to continue in the land where it was born, but also for the people of the area. Christians have always been an essential element of reconciliation and bridge building among different ethnic and religious components of the region.” He added, “We need to bring hope to our people that they still have a future in their homeland by tending to their needs, both in terms of security and financial help.”

At the end of his speech, His Holiness reassured that “the Church today is faithfully embracing the Cross of Christ, and follows Him to the Calvary trusting that, from death, life is given in Him.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II presided over a session for the leaders, representatives and participants from the Orthodox Churches in the World Council of Churches (WCC) conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Tanzania.

During the session, participants discussed the role of the Orthodox Churches worldwide, and their participation in the WCC, as well as their interaction together with the other churches.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II arrived at Arusha in Tansania to participate in the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC).

His Holiness was received by His Eminence Mor Coorilose Geevarghese, Metropolitan of Niranam and MODERATOR of the Commission for World Mission and Evangelism at WCC, as well as a delegation from the Council.

He is accompanied by Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.

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From March 6 to 10, 2018, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II made a private visit to His brother in Christ His Holiness Catholicose Karekin II, Catholicose-Patriarch of All Armenians, in Etchmiadzin – Armenia.

His Holiness was accompanied by their Eminences: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Armash Nalbandian, Armenian Orthodox Archbishop of Damascus.

His Holiness Patriarch Aphrem was warmly received by His Holiness Catholicose Karekin. The Pontiffs visited several Monasteries and historical sites in Armenia.

They emphasized the history of good relations between the two sister churches: Syriac Orthodox Church and Armenian Orthodox Church, as well as the shared martyrdom that the clergy and faithful of both churches had gone through at the turn of the twentieth century during the Armenian Genocide, and the Syriac Genocide SAYFO.

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II also held a meeting with the seminarians of Gevorkian Theological Seminary. He spoke about the importance of seminarian studies and life in preparing for pastoral service; he then answered various questions of the seminarians.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II visited Maroutha project and the land on which a new Syriac church will be built.

His Holiness was received by His Excellency Dr. Bishr Al-Sabban, Governor of Damascus. His Holiness inspected the construction work and infrastructure executed by the Governorate of Damascus in Marotha Project.

His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and members of the Endowments Committee.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met with a delegation from “World Vision International (WVI)”, at the Patriarchal Residence in Atchaneh, Bikfaya – Lebanon.

The delegation included Dr. Beng Yeoh, Dr. Rein Dekker, and Mr. Wynn Flaten.

The meeting was attended by His Eminences Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, and Mr. Shadi Sarweh, Executive Director of St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee (EPDC).

The delegation visited the Patriarchal Residence to meet with representatives of EPDC and discuss matters related to projects executed by WVI and EPDC for the relief of persecuted people in Syria.

His Holiness blessed the work of the two committees and encouraged them to further develop common work and collaboration.

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On the occasion of the Feast of Mor Aphrem and Mor Theodoros, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at Mor Aphrem Church in Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya.

Their Eminences Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus and Mor Timotheos Matthew, Patriarchal Secretary for Indian Affairs assisted His Holiness in the Holy Qurobo.

During the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness ordained 4 subdeacons (Malke Karat, Stephan Shabo, Simon Absim, and Rami Alberni) and 4 readers (Basem Dalloul, Elias Munairji, Fadi Abu Asali, and Vinicius Torres).

His Holiness spoke about the Mor Theodoros who kept his faith steadfast and was martyred for Christ. He also talked about Mor Aphrem who was a witness for the Word through his teachings and Hymns, as well as through helping the least fortune and the sick during the plague. He compared the days when the saint lived to our current times where war is forcing people to leave their homes, and the faith of Christians is tested during persecutions.

 

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) from Canada and the U.S., at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma – Damascus
The meeting was attended by His Eminences Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, and Deacon Imad Syryany.
The delegation reported to His Holiness reuslts of their visit to the various Syrian cities. They also reviewed reports on the progress of many humanitarian projects executed by EPDC through the support of the committee.
His Holiness welcomed the delegation and expressed his gratitude for the love they are showing to the persecuted people in Syria. He also blessed the work and collaboration of the MCC and EPDC and encouraged them to further develop common work and collaboration
.

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His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II presided over the evening prayer (Ramsho) at St. George Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma, Damascus.
At the end of the prayer, His Holiness prayed the special prayer of Shubqono (Forgiveness) during which the clergy and faithful ask forgiveness from one another, before the beginning of the Great Lent.
His Holiness spoke about love as a source of true and sincere forgiveness. He emphasized the fact that God loved us before for He sent His Only Begotten to reconcile us with Him. He also spoke about the importance of love and forgiveness at the beginning of the Great Lent, which is a journey of penance and purification of the soul from sins.
The service was also attended by His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus.
 

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-Khouri, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Mor Titus Boulos Touza, Apostolic Nuncio to the Evangelical Mission Churches in Brazil, in the presence of clergy from Brazil as well as monks of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, and monks and deacons of the Patriarchate.

His Excellency Achilles Zaluar, Chargé d’Affaires of the Brazilian Embassy in Damascus also attended the Holy Qurobo.

During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness ordained Very Rev. Dayroyo Aphrem Fernandez to be a priest for St. Mary Church in Mor Aphrem Monastery in the Brazilian Capital Brazilia.

In his sermon, His Holiness explained the Bible reading of the first Sunday of Lent. He talked about lent period as a time to plead God to change us like He changed water into wine in Cana. He also spoke about the life of priesthood and congratulated the newly ordained priest, wishing him long years of blessed service.

At the end of the ordination rite, His Eminence Mor Titus Boulos Touza wished Raban Aphrem all success in his priestly service. He also thanked His Holiness for his overwhelming fatherly love.

The Patriarchal Encyclical of the Great Lent was then read, after which the newly ordained priest continued the Holy Qurobo.

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