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Stories on the Church of Antioch and the Middle East

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is an archdiocese of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. It traces its roots to first century Antioch (modern-day Antakya, Turkey), the city in which the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The Patriarchate is led by His Beatitude John X from Damascus, Syria. In addition to its continuing presence in Syria and Lebanon, the Antiochian Patriarchate has archdioceses in Europe; Asia; North, Central and South America; and Australia and New Zealand.

The Church of Antioch was established by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D., with St. Peter serving for the next eight years as its first prelate. The Church of Antioch is one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome. Antiochians are in full communion with other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Orthodox Church in America, as well as many other Orthodox jurisdictions around the world.


Latest News

Statement on the Reception of Refugees in the United States

Syrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word MagazineSyrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word MagazineStatement from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on the Reception of Refugees in the United States in Light of Recent Terrorist Actions around the World

Since the tragic terrorist actions in Paris, Beirut, Mali and elsewhere in the past two weeks, there have been polarized reactions to the reception of refugees, mainly of Syrian nationality, worldwide: an understandable reaction of concern on the one hand, but a sad overreaction of fear on the other. We are all concerned first and foremost for the safety of the citizens of the United States which must be continually addressed and assessed. At the same time, the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country. Misguided U.S. foreign policy helped create the so-called "Arab Spring" which has been a "tornado" that has destroyed Arab countries, leaving power vacuums that have fostered the soaring, vicious activity of terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Nusra, and others in the Middle East and around the world. All of this has resulted in an unprecedented number of deaths of innocent people and lack of basic services like healthcare and sanitation, healthy food and drinking water, safe and dignified housing, and so forth.

We must us not be guided by fear or bigotry, but rather let us work to heal the wounds of the injured, clothing the naked and feeding the poor as our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ has taught us (Matthew 25:35-36).

Who Is Our Peace? + A Reflection on the State of the World Now

by Fr. George Shalhoub of the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan
A sermon delivered Sunday, November 15, 2015, in the wake of the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris


In the light of the constant atrocities, murder, suicide bombings, the war ravaging the world today, I wish to share with you the following:

As we enter the Holy Advent Season, we shall also gather, as families, to celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of a world gone mad. We need to keep our eyes open through prayer to Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, for the salvation of the world.

Statement of the Antiochian Archdiocese on the Terrorist Attacks against the People of Beirut and Paris

It is with extreme sadness that His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese offer our prayers and condolences to the families of all of the victims of the horrific terrorist attacks that were perpetrated last week against the people of Beirut and Paris. We ask our gracious and merciful Lord to bestow healing upon the victims who were injured, repose of soul for those whose lives were taken, and some measure of comfort to the families of the victims. We pray to God that He will soften the hearts of those who inflict pain and suffering and that He will grant to the world the peace that can only come from above.

We speak out in the strongest possible terms against all forms of violence which are carried out against our fellow human beings and proclaim that we will stand in solidarity with all people of peace and good will. We are mindful that those who perpetrate these acts of violence are intent on spreading fear, but we are comforted by the words of St. Paul to Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph's Statement Regarding the Archdiocesan Syrian Relief Program

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
November 11, 2015 

Beloved Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Parish Councils, Beloved Faithful:

Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we are about to begin the time of prayer and fasting in preparation for His Nativity in the Flesh.

Over the past several weeks and months, we have received numerous emails, calls and letters from within and outside our Archdiocese, from Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, expressing their willingness to help, give money, sponsor families, and more, with regard to the Syrian refugee and relief effort. As a result, during our Board of Trustees meeting in Los Angeles last month, I appointed a committee to oversee all the humanitarian and fundraising efforts of our Archdiocese relating to the ongoing Syrian crisis. (You can read the appointment letter explaining the scope and members of the committee on

His Beatitude Patriarch John X in Good Condition after Fall

As you may know, our Father in Christ, His Beatitude Patriarch John X suffered a fall and some injuries to his eye and shoulder. The official statement of the Patriarchate has been published in Arabic and can be read here.

The statement reports that His Beatitude is in good condition and that he will need a period of hospitalization and convalescence.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph asks all of the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America to join him in prayer for our Father in Christ Patriarch John X and to ask our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the only Physician of our souls and bodies, to bring healing to His Beatitude.


New Metropolitan Elected for the Archdiocese of Zahle, Baalbek and Dependencies, Lebanon

On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, His Beatitude Patriarch John X and the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, during their meeting at the historic Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery in northern Lebanon, elected Archimandrite Jonah Suri, head of Bkeftine Monastery of Our Lady in the Archdiocese of Tripoli, Lebanon, as Metropolitan of Zahle, Baalbek and Dependencies, Lebanon. He succeeds His Eminence, Metropolitan Spyridon, who retired with honor this year after leading his archdiocese since 1966.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, on behalf of the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, expresses his heartfelt prayers and best wishes to Metropolitan-elect Jonah, and asks our Lord to bless his episcopacy.

Lecture Highlights Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

On Tuesday September 29th, 2015 at the Museum of the City of New York, the former Director of the Department of Philanthropy of the Patriarchate of Antioch, Samer Laham, addressed a crowd of nearly 200 people regarding the devastating impact of the humanitarian crisis in Syria upon Orthodox Christians in the Middle East as well as Syrians of all faiths. His Eminence Archbiship Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America were in attendance and offered Archieratical responses to Mr. Laham's multimedia presentation. The lecture was sponsored by the Order of St. Andrew, the Order of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and the IOCC as the relief agency of the Assembly of Bishops.

View a gallery of photos from the event (Photos by J. Mindala)

BuzzFeed Features St. Nicholas Cathedral in Story About Syrian Christians

St. Nicholas CathedralSt. Nicholas CathedralOn September 28, 2015, the popular website BuzzFeed featured a story by reporter Leticia Miranda, "Christian Syrians in the U.S. Fear for their Families Back Home." Miranda described the situation for many families who are in anguish over the situation of their loved ones living in war-torn Syria. The plight of Christians "has been an ongoing concern for human rights advocates since the beginning of the war in 2011," noted the article. "Since then, more than 700,000 Christian Syrians have left the country, according to Open Doors International, a U.K.-based organization tracking the persecution of Christians."

Read the full post on BuzzFeed

IOCC Video, "Saving Syria's Children," Tells Story of Displaced Families

"Saving Syria's Children," a new video from the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), recounts how civil war has robbed more than five million Syrian children of their innocence, homes, safety, and education. IOCC is responding with relief to Syria's displaced children and families and those living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Armenia, Greece, and Serbia.

(Narrated by Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director and CEO)

Tri-State Order of St. Ignatius Members to Co-sponsor Presentation by Mr. Samer Laham: "Syria in Crisis"

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On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, a talk regarding the humanitarian crisis that has befallen the Syrian population, including Christians and other minorities, will be presented by Mr. Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Development and Ecumenical Relations for the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East. Admission is free; the presentation will be held at the City of the Museum of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, NYC. Donations will be accepted by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to help with their Syrian relief efforts.

The Cocktail Hour is from 6:30-7:30, followed by the presentation at 7:30. His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph and His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America will be in attendance. The co-sponsors for the event are The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the IOCC, and The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Space is limited! Please RSVP by September 25 to Christa Pourou, 212.570.3550 , or