Prot. 17/2014R  -  Rabweh, 17/01/2014

To the Reverend Sheikhs, Muftis, Ulema
And Heads of Islamic Religious Centres

Cordial greetings, with my affection, prayer, distinguished consideration and great esteem.
Very soon now there will be taking place the Geneva 2 Conference for peace in Syria, which is languishing under the burden of the destructive, bloody, deadly crisis that is now beginning its fourth year.

Dear friends!

I am writing this letter from the World Council of Churches’ Geneva Ecumenical Centre. Together with a number of patriarchs, bishops, clerics and lay-persons of various Christian Churches, I was invited to the WCC Ecumenical Consultation on Syria to address a clear, humane and Christian appeal to the whole world, especially to the participants and countries who will be taking part in the Geneva 2 Conference, in order to promote the success of this conference, and to put an end to the chain of violence, killing and destruction and re-establish peace in beloved Syria. We are persuaded that the solution of this bloody, tragic, destructive conflict will have a great, historic impact on the future of our Arab region, our Arab countries and their unity, peace, stability and development.

Inspired by this meeting in Geneva, I am acting on my own initiative in launching this personal appeal to my beloved brothers, the Sheikhs, Muftis, Ulema and heads of Islamic faith centres, inviting them to take an initiative similar to that of the WCC by sending, collectively or individually, letters and appeals based on religious teachings and guidance from the verses of the venerable Qur’an, for the success of Geneva 2. Its success would be a source of benefit, blessing, security and peace for all our blessed Arab countries and for the whole world too, beginning from our Arab world, which is the cradle of religions and civilizations.

Dear reverend friends!

Our solidarity, as Christian and Muslim religious leaders, in launching this spiritual appeal based on the convictions of our holy faith, at this singularly historic juncture in our lives, will have a great impact on those taking part in Geneva 2 and on the citizens of our Arab countries, and will be a call to hope and calmness in the hearts of all, helping to rebuild trust and love among citizens and set aside the resentments associated with faith riots, and the enmity and hatred that have hitherto, unfortunately, been on the rise among the children of the same country.

I am hopeful that this appeal that I am sending to you with great affection, via the media and other means of communication, will elicit a favourable response! So, through this Christian appeal from Geneva and through Muslim appeals from Arab countries, we shall set a shining Muslim-Christian interfaith example to our fellow-citizens and help realise this great gift for our countries, the gift of peace. Peace is one of God’s names in Islam. Peace is the programme of the angelic hymn on the day of the Christmas feast that we have recently been celebrating. I end my letter with this hymn: “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth! Good will towards men!" We are keen to heed Jesus’ Beatitude addressed to workers for peace: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

With my affection and great regard
 
+ Gregorios

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and Jerusalem


Joachim and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (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 whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (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.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)