Prot.  577 /2010D

To: Western Heads of State

Damascus, 20 December 2010

 

Your Majesty/Your Excellency, (Mister President)

Please accept my respectful greetings, Your Majesty/ Your Excellency, (Mister President), firstly on the occasion of Christmas, as I wish you a blessed Feast of the Nativity of the Saviour of the world; our world which is, as the Liturgy has it, His world. May I also offer my best wishes for the New Year 2011 to Your Majesty/ Your Excellency, (to you, Mr. President) personally for your family and beloved country.

I should like to draw your attention, secondly, to the recent (10-24 October) holding of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, at the Vatican.  You will readily understand the significance of this event, with regard to three aspects in particular:

1.  The importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East and the challenges facing it

2.  Muslim-Christian dialogue

3.  The impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the two preceding issues, and thus the urgent need for peace.

In two recent letters addressed to the Kings and Presidents of Arab countries, I outlined this situation and the business of the above-mentioned Assembly and enclose with the present, a copy of that of 24 October, following the holding of the Synodal Assembly.

That explains why it appears to me all the more needful that I should address Heads of State in Western countries, to set out the importance of these aspects of vital urgency for the future of Christianity in the Holy Land and in Middle Eastern countries and for our living together and dialogue, as well as for the presence of Muslims in Western countries.

Since everything depends on peace and is linked to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Middle East's ongoing crises, fuelled by the rise of fundamentalism and emigration, are also bound up with this conflict.

That is why I am making this urgent appeal to you to work for peace, as His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI requested in his homily of 24 October, during the Closing Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.

Two papers, illustrative of the urgency of the need for resolution, are also enclosed: one on        The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: brave peace, the other on Jerusalem, capital of faith.

Three countries have just recognized the State of Palestine: Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. It is expected that other Latin American countries will join them. Can the European Union continue to delay acting on its declared intention on the matter? Europe and the whole West are very important for us all in the Middle East.

If you wish there still to be Christians in the Middle East in the Holy Land, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and the countries of the Gulf, help us to make peace and stop the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, recognized in international law as Palestinian land!

Christians, from lay-people to Patriarchs, together with Muslims in Arab countries are wondering why sanctions can be imposed upon a number of countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran, but never any that affect Israel.

Such a state of affairs feeds fundamentalism and extremism and in turn rebounds upon us Christians, especially in Iraq and Egypt: the enclosed papers show that.

Thanking Your Majesty/Your Excellency, (you, Mister President) for your consideration of this letter and its accompanying papers, we hope that the year 2011 will bring good news, that is, the realisation of the wishes and hopes expressed in these lines.

With my esteem and blessing,

 

+ Gregorios III

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,

Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life! (Troparion)

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

Although You descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, * You destroyed the power of Hades; * You arose as the victor, O Christ God, * proclaiming to the myrrh-bearing women: “Rejoice!” * And granting peace to Your Apostles, * O, You, Who gives resurrection to the fallen. (Kontakion)

Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11 ESV)

Entry into Jerusalem

As we were buried with You through Baptism, O Christ our God, * we were made worthy of immortal life by Your Resurrection, * and we praise You in song, crying out: * “Hosanna in the highest! * Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the 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.

As you were carried upon a throne in heaven and upon a colt on earth, * O Christ God, you accepted the praise of angels and the songs of children who cry out to You: * “Blessed are You Who has come to to call back Adam!” (Kontakion, Tone 6)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.

St. John of Kronstadt