Coat of Arms

Melkite Greek Catholic
PATRIARCHATE
of Antioch and All the East
of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

Speech of H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III

during the Special Assembly for the Middle East

of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, 10-24 October 2010

 

Islamic-Christian Dialogue

From the early period of his pontificate, during his first apostolic visit to Germany and his meeting with young Muslims in Cologne, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has underlined the importance of Islamic-Christian dialogue, in the same way as did Vatican II.

The experience of our Churches shows us that this dialogue is necessary and vital, and of course that it is possible, contrary to what some are saying.

This dialogue is taking place on two very distinct levels. There is the properly doctrinal and intellectual level, that can be found for example in the regular meetings of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and the University of Al Azharor in the teaching and publications of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) and other study centres in several of our countries. Then there is the existential level, that of the everyday life of our faithful living in Muslim majority countries.

The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue is familiar with and encourages the centres, groups, institutions and initiatives of Christian inspiration which practise and favour this dialogue, in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jerusalem, Jordan and Iraq.

It is important to point out, since this fact is virtually unknown outside the Middle East, that there are also dialogue initiatives of Islamic inspiration, mainly in Jordan, but also in Lebanon, Syria, Qatar and Turkey.

This existential dialogue is that of everyday life in society, in its different aspects and various dimensions: exchanging good wishes for the major feasts of both religions, neighbourly relation in cities from which formerly completely Christian districts have by now vanished, professional relations and relations in schools and universities attended by Christians and Muslims. This dialogue is going on in all our countries, except Saudi Arabia, the only country in the region where Christianity is still outlawed.

The pursuit of this dialogue is therefore an element of great weight to slow the emigration of Christians. If they disappear from the region, what would become of this dialogue, equally important for preventing a conflict between a predominantly Muslim Middle East and a reputedly Christian West?

This Synodal Assembly ought therefore explicitly to encourage the pursuit of this dialogue, at all levels.

Gregorios III

Patriarch

19 September 2010

Translation from French: V. Chamberlain


Teachings of Christ

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Theophany

At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion - Tone 1)

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

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * “You have come, and You have appeared , O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (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.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short....

Saint Basil the Great
(Letter 90)