To All Bishops, Priests and Faithful of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Throughout the World
From H. B. Patriarch Gregorios III
At this very difficult moment for Arab countries, we ask all Christian people to be mindful that, in the body of Christ, “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.” (1 Corinthians 12: 26) The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council remind us further of the solidarity of Christians with their fellows,
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. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds. (Gaudium et Spes 1, 1965)
For all these reasons, we appeal to all bishops, priests and people to pray on the First Sunday of Lent for peace, understanding, solidarity, healing, justice and liberty, by introducing a specially extended litany for peace, using the prayer from the Paraklesis to the Holy Virgin, “Again we pray for the safekeeping of this holy church and this city, and of all cities and towns from pestilence, famine, earthquake, flood, fire and the sword, from invasion of enemies, civil war, and unforeseen death; and that our good God, who loveth mankind, will be graciously favourable and easily entreated, and will turn away from us all the wrath stirred up against us, and deliver us from all his righteous chastisement which impendeth against us, and have mercy on us,” and that of St. Basil, “Deliver, Lord, this city, and every city, town and village, from famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, sword, invasion by enemies and from civil war.” (Prayer following the consecration from the Liturgy of Saint Basil)
In this way, we shall not be merely passively following events on the media, but actively praying for justice, social peace, unity and liberty. Every Arab is brother to his fellow, just as my fellow Arab is brother to me. Every Arab Christian is brother or sister to other Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters.
We are all linked in this world of ours which is God’s world, and we are all linked in Christ who loves mankind. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 16)
Patriarch Gregorios III
Of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
English language editor V.C.