Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Residence - Rabweh (Lebanon) 12/03/2014

The Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Syria held its spring session in the course of one day, 12 March 2014. Due to difficult travel conditions inside Syria, the Assembly was held at the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchal residence in Rabweh (Antelias, Lebanon.)

The meeting was chaired by Patriarch Gregorios III, President of the Assembly, in the presence of Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, and the other hierarchs and members of the Assembly.

The Assembly dealt with the programme prepared by Chorbishop Mounir Sakkal, Secretary to the Assembly.
At the end of the meeting, the Assembly published the following press-release:

1- The Syrian crisis is now in its fourth year. Our situation can be described in the words of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”

2- We pray for the repose of all victims. We pray for the healing of all sick, injured, handicapped or marginalised persons in distress. We remember the kidnapped, especially our two brother bishops, Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, the two priests, Michael Kayyal and Ishaq Mahfouz, and many other sons and daughters of our parishes.

3- We declare our rejection of all forms of extremism, takfirism, murder and extortion, and all attacks on people and buildings. We condemn attacks on places of worship, whether churches or mosques.  The number of damaged or destroyed churches of all denominations is now around one hundred.

4- We should like to express solidarity with our beloved country, Syria, its people and government. We support all efforts towards a peaceful, just and rapid solution to the crisis, especially through a continuance of the Geneva talks. We want a united, free, democratic and pluralistic Syria, with the same citizenship criteria for everyone, and we want a worthy life for all constituents of Syrian society, irrespective of party.

5- On the occasion of Great and Holy Lent, we invite our sons and daughters to fast and show solidarity, charity and collaboration in alleviating the sufferings of internally and externally displaced persons. We need the grace of fasting, prayer, spiritual strength, faith, hope and love. We must not give way to feelings of despair, frustration and fear, despite our tragic, terrible suffering that is daily increasing. We hear the voice of the Holy Father Pope Francis and thank him for his support, love and prayers for Syria. He tells us, "Let us never lose the courage of prayer!” He also says, "Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts." We call upon everyone, especially Christians during Great Lent, to ensure that the whole of Syria become so many hands raised in prayer. May Lent cause the feelings and power of hope to spring up in us!

6- We beseech the Lord to lead our tragic, bloody way of the cross towards the dawn and joy of the holy Resurrection. Let Syria return to its former state of peace, security, love, kindliness, communication, fellowship, mutual respect, living together, and a worthy life for all citizens.

7- We appeal to all citizens, asking them to work for peace by all means, both local and international and emphasise the need for a cease-fire, dialogue, reconciliation and reconstruction. We all have the responsibility of working hard for peace.

8- Our special thanks go to His Holiness Pope Francis, together with our congratulations on the first anniversary of his pontificate. We also thank all (especially Catholic) international institutions for their support offered with the aim of alleviating the suffering of all Syrian citizens.

May the Virgin Mary, our Lady of Damascus and Saidnaya, and all other Marian places of pilgrimage, keep Syria under her protection: may she spread peace and love throughout the country. We appeal to the conscience of all nations, and especially those countries capable of playing a decisive role in the Syrian crisis, to find a way to end the crisis.

With the Church we pray, “Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and each other and all our lives unto Christ our God.”

With the Lord we say to the sons and daughters of our parishes:

“Fear not, little flock!

Be light, salt and leaven!”

+ Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem
President of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Syria


Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ