Statement Issued by the Fathers of the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch Patriarchal Residence – Atchaneh, Bikfaya – Lebanon October 12, 2018.
Upon the invitation of His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch held a regular session at the Patriarchal Residence in Atchaneh, Bikfaya – Lebanon, on October 9-12, 2018, with the participation of all its members.
His Holiness the Patriarch inaugurated the Holy Synod by celebrating the Divine Liturgy at Mor Severus Church. In his sermon, His Holiness welcomed all the Fathers participating in the Holy Synod. Together, they prayed for the Holy Church and her children, asking the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit for all the members of the Holy Synod, for the good of the Church and the faithful. His Holiness also prayed for the safe return of the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, beseeching the Lord that they return safely soon to their Churches.
During a visit of the Fathers of the Holy Synod to His Excellency General Michel Aoun, President of the Republic of Lebanon, on Tuesday 9/10/2018, His Holiness the Patriarch hoped for peace and prosperity in Lebanon, appreciating its message of love, fellowship and openness, and hoping for the formation of a new government which meets the aspirations of the noble Lebanese people and takes into account the participation of all confessional denominations, including the minorities.
In the inaugural session, after prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit, the Fathers of the Holy Synod discussed the various topics and issues listed on the agenda; they listened to a special report from His Holiness the Patriarch about his major visits, meetings and executed projects since the last meeting of the Holy Synod. Reports were submitted about the various Patriarchal departments: Financial Department, Department of Syriac Studies, Media Department, Suryoyo Patriarchal Youth Department. Moreover, they were informed of the projects accomplished by the Patriarchate since the last synod; the most important of these are: Antioch Syrian University, Suboro TV, the Holy Cross Monastery, Melkart Pharmaceutical Factory, Little Angel House Orphanage, Syriac Cultural Center, Kindergarten, etc…
The Fathers discussed the situation of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in India, especially following the disastrous flood that hit the state of Kerala a few weeks ago, resulting in great human and material losses. They stressed the need for our Church throughout the world to stand by the side of the victims of the flood in India. The Fathers also decided to take some actions concerning the problem with the other faction in India which exists since the beginning of the last century.
The Fathers also listened to some reports about the Syriac dioceses in the Middle East and the diaspora. They discussed several pastoral issues, majorly: the date of celebrating the Resurrection, the Great Lent, god-parenthood in the Church, etc… In addition, they studied some reports on the ecumenical work of our Church.
In a serious note, the Fathers studied thoroughly the topic of the emigration of our Syriac people from the Middle East, especially from Iraq and Syria, and discussed the ways to reduce it by supporting our people to stay firm in the land of their forefathers by all available means, mainly by rebuilding the destroyed houses, creating productive and developmental projects that will provide job opportunities to the faithful of our Church, in addition to helping the refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. The Fathers also stressed the necessity of taking care of new emigrants in the diaspora and assisting them in integrating in the Syriac parishes and churches, in order to help them to preserve their religious and cultural identity.
Furthermore, the Fathers discussed the case of the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, and were informed of the latest developments in this respect; the Fathers expressed their startling at the suspicious silence and the indifference of the international community overshadowing this cause. They appealed to all nations, international organizations, and the people with goodwill to spend all effort for the safe return of the Archbishops as well as all the kidnapped and missing people.
The Fathers welcomed the efforts spent on eradicating terrorism from Syria, and aiming at reaching a political resolution for the long-standing crisis. They drew hope from the positive developments in Syria and called for the lifting of the unjust and illegal siege on the Syrian people, and the restoration of security and safety in the country, as well as the return of all its citizens to it. The Fathers stressed the importance of building a civil society based on the foundations of freedom, justice and democracy, based on a constitution that ensures the unity of the country, and is rooted on the coexistence between its various components.
In this regard, the Fathers showed great interest in the case of the Syriac schools in Al-Jazeera, and the recent violations and infringements that took place there. They denounced the attempts aiming at imposing a new reality that contradicts the convictions most of the faithful of the Church and the citizens of the country. They stressed on the importance of mutual respect among the various components of the region.
The Fathers welcomed the recent agreements in Iraq leading to the election of a President, the Speaker of Parliament and the assignment of a new Prime Minister. They prayed hoping that these developments will be reflected positively on the entire Iraqi people. They expressed their content at the return of a great part of our people to their villages and towns in the Nineveh Plain. The Fathers also prayed for the Palestinian people who are under occupation, as well as for peace in the entire region.
Finally, the Fathers beseeched God to preserve His Holy Church, and all her faithful everywhere, hoping that they will enjoy peaceful times, and calling them all to pray for their mother Church and her pastors, that God may keep them, and “be in the midst of her, so that she shall not be moved” (Psalms 46: 5).