The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has expressed great sadness at the passing away of His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (1933-2014), Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the supreme head of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
Archbishop Justin said: “We thank God for the extraordinary life and witness of His Holiness and pray for the Syrian Orthodox Church at this time of mourning and uncertainty. His Holiness will be sorely missed. We also continue to remember His Eminence Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of Alleppo, who has been missing along with His Eminence Metropolitan Boulos since April 2013 and seek the mercy of Christ for his safe release.
“Christians across the Middle East are coping under immense suffering and trials. Their steadfastness is one of deep inner conviction, commitment and faith. They are bearing the cross on a daily basis without fear and announcing the Good News in word and deed. We thank God for this faithful witness, which is a blessing to the whole world, a message that Christ in our midst will help overcome the trials, distress and hardship that face us.”
His Holiness was known for his enduring ministry in very difficult and trying circumstances, and made important contributions to ecumenical dialogue. He was a member of different Eastern and Western Academies and the author of a number of books on Christian education, theology, history, and culture in the Syriac, Arabic and English languages.