Patriarch GergoriosIIIDamascus - “Holy Father, be our Saint Simon of Cyrene on the Way of the Cross!” was the appeal made by His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, in an open letter to Pope Francis. In this very personally expressed message, dated 29 March, Holy Friday, when the Pope celebrated the first Way of the Cross of his pontificate, Gregorios III outlined the “violence, terror, chaos and death” ravaging Syria.

Patriarch Gregorios III says he addressed to the pope “a plaintive and affectionate cry, as much as to say: come to the aid of Syria, which cannot bear such a long Way of the Cross.  It needs resurrection …through reconciliation and dialogue, to bring to an end the crisis that is destroying thousands upon thousands of Christians and non-Christians.”  He made a real call for help, admitting that he was expecting “a gesture, an initiative, a roadmap” from the Holy Father.

“We are expecting an initiative, a gesture and a word”
The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East exhorted “the Vatican, as a State, Pope Francis, personally and the Catholic Church, by way of the Episcopal Conferences”  to launch a joint appeal to save Syria.

“We are not afraid of Muslims,” he explains, “but we are afraid of chaos taking root in the Middle East. Syria has become a highly lucrative market-place for interested parties, while every aspect of democracy, freedom and secularism has been lost. Nowadays,” laments His Beatitude Gregorios III, “no-one cares about that.”

Daily kidnappings, acts of violence and killings
Last Sunday, in his Easter Urbi et Orbi message, the pope urged peace in the Middle East and “above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.  How much blood has been shed!” declared Pope Francis, “And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East emphasised the joy awakened by these words from the pope which made headlines in all the papers. He said something “quite precise and concise, that made complete sense and touched the hearts of all Syrian citizens. We need someone from the Catholic Church calling stop; enough fighting. Every day we have new abductions and killings. Where are we going? People can’t take any more. That precisely why I made this appeal,” explains Gregorios III, “for the Catholic Church to be in the front line for saving Syria.”

•    See the full English text of Patriarch Gregorios III’s Letter to Pope Francis:  http://www.pgc-lb.org/eng/gregorios/view/Letter-to-Pope-Francis
•    Read the news item in French on the Vatican Radio website: http://fr.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/02/syrie_:_gregorios_iii_lance_un_appel_au_secours_au_pape_fran%C3%A7ois/fr1-679090
•    Listen to the interview in French with Hélène Destombes  on Vatican radio: http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audio/ra/00365188.RM and http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audiomp3/00365188.MP3


Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live." (Proverbs 7:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force...it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have autority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.

St. John Chrysostom