Recently, Economos Antony Francis Gabriel of the Antiochian Heritage Foundation of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North American wrote a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis, expressing his appreciation for his leadership and ministry:
October 11th, 2013
His Holiness Pope Francis
00120 Vatican City
"Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord"
Ever since you stepped out on the balcony after your election, I knew you were going to be someone different. So far your actions and your words has validated my initial perception. You indeed are an extraordinary human being.
You've met with our Patriarch, His Beatitude John X, and my dear friend Archbishop Silouan (Musi) from Argentina. His Eminence spoke lovingly about your relationship with him and it warmed my heart quite deeply.
Your comments on the Orthodox Liturgy, your admonition to the Bishops, that they are not "Princes", your acceptance of those of a different orientation, your little car, your shoes, your cross, your living quarters... should I go on? All indicate a man of God whose first love is that not only of our Blessed Lord but of his children, who are in His image. You understand in the depth the common humanity that we all share and even the fact that you proclaimed that you are a sinner, sheds light on the luminosity of your person. Shedding the trappings of your high office, you descend charismatically to touch by grace "even the least of these my brethrens."
As a priest of over 50 years, you have touched my heart deeply as the Bishop of Rome. Since the inauguration of your Archpastoral ministry until this moment, it is evident that you see the urgent need of reformation of archaic rules, regulations and laws. How refreshing to see this coming from the Bishop of Rome.
I believe profoundly that your open ministry has and will continue to touch the hearts and minds of Christians throughout the world. You certainly are the most visible leader in a sea of either fundamentalism or indifference. This fact alone, because of how you have conducted your Apostolic ministry, gives one hope in a time of almost sheer hopelessness.
As an Antiochian Orthodox Christian priest, whose roots are deeply embedded in the Church of Antioch founded by St. Peter and Paul, I salute Your Holiness and all that you represent, from the same spiritual source. You are continually in our private prayers as well as before the Eucharist "that you will continue to rightly divide the WORD of TRUTH".
PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR POOR SYRIA AND OUR MISSING BISHOPS
Faithfully in Christ,
Economos Antony Francis Gabriel, STM Chairman
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church