Stories On Syria


Rejoicing at Release of Captive Nuns

Photo: bbc.comPhoto: bbc.comOn the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 9, 2014, multiple media outlets including a leading newspaper in Lebanon, The Daily Star, reported that the thirteen nuns held in captivity by Syrian rebels for over three months were freed late in the day, as a result of Lebanese and Qatari mediation. Officers from Lebanon's General Security received the nuns on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal. 

Parishioners and clergy at the Archdiocese's mother cathedral, St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, received the joyous news during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in which Bishop Nicholas was presiding. "We learned of the release just prior to commencing Holy Communion, and began ringing the bells of the Cathedral loudly, chanting 'O Lord, save Thy people' and 'To Thee the Champion Leader,'" says Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar-General of the Antiochian Archdiocese. An English translation of a statement from His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch, is being prepared by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Lenten Encyclical of Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East

The Great Lent: When Mercy Dries Up, Fasting Suffers Drought

By God's mercy John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Brethren, Pastors of the Holy Church of Antioch;

Beloved children in all dioceses in this apostolic see

Brethren and dearest spiritual children, whose strength and anticipation in God, strengthen ours;

Entering this redemptive period which leads us to the Cross (of Christ) and the dawn of His and thus our resurrection, these days bring to us the anticipation to Jesus and His divine consolation for His beloved humans; for whom He descended from His highest, incarnated in the Virgin, submitting Himself to the human law, willingly walking the path of the Cross, in order to rise from the dead, becoming the first fruit for our resurrection from our earthly misery and tribulation.

Jesus chose the path of the Cross, and drank from the chalice of death to simply tell us that the tribulation of our times will not overshadow our hope for light, and that hardship cannot eclipse the brightness of resurrection.

IOCC Hosts Syrian Relief Gathering in Pittsburgh, PA

Syrian Relief Dinner & Prayer Service
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
985 Providence Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
(opposite La Roche College, 9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237)
www.iocc.org/pittsburgh

Tickets $50.00 per person (age 18 and under $20, age 6 and under free)

Prayer Service begins at 4 p.m. - Lenten dinner and Reception from 5 - 7 p.m.

Additional donations will be appreciated. Net proceeds will benefit Syrian Relief Efforts.

Hosting this event will be the following Hierarchs:

  • Greek Diocese - His Eminence Metropolitan Savas
  • Antiochian Diocese - His Grace Bishop Thomas
  • Orthodox Church in America - His Grace Bishop Melchisedek
  • Serbian Diocese - His Grace Bishop Dr. Mitrophan
  • Ukrianian Orthodox Church - His Grace Bishop Daniel
  • Carpatho-Russian - His Grace Bishop Gregory

Sponsoring organizations: Philoptochos of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, IOCC Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee, and Antiochian Orthodox Community

For Reservations

Online (preferred method): www.iocc.org/pittsburgh, or
Call Sophie at 412-341-6869, farahs32@gmail.com, or
Laura at IOCC 877-803-4622, or
Mail: IOCC, 110 West Road, Suite 360, Baltimore, Maryland 21204, or
Ask if tickets are available in your home parish.

IOCC is Assisting in Evacuation of Syrians Fleeing Homs

February 12, 2014 (Baltimore, MD) Syrian civilians evacuated from the embattled city of Homs under a UN-negotiated cease-fire are being aided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) as they flee to safety. IOCC and its church partner in Syria, The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), are in Homs assisting in the evacuation that began this weekend and are providing emergency relief to the Syrian people fleeing the city.

Among the evacuees were ten youths who were immediately taken to the nearest medical facility for needed vaccines and medical attention. IOCC/GOPA also assisted in providing the young evacuees with food, clothing, shoes, hygiene kits, and blankets.

Nearly 400 residents from the Homs neighborhoods of Alaqrabas, Jouret Shiah, Khalidiya, Karabis, and Bustan Al Diwan fled the city today on foot flanked by UN humanitarian vehicles for protection. Those who were not too weak from months of malnutrition walked for more than two hours before reaching safety.

Common Statement by Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

On January 30, 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East concluded his five-day visit to Russia, and the following Common Statement with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was released (translation provided by the Russian Orthodox Church):

At the invitation of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East John X paid his official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church from January 25 to 30, 2014. The Patriarchate of Antioch is going now through difficult times because of the violence committed in its homeland and its tragic consequences of the political crisis for its people. This visit has given the two sister Churches the opportunity to discuss several disturbing issues affecting their witness and ministry. The two Churches feel the need to state the following:

1. The important mission of a Church in a society is to bear witness in word and deed to God's love for each person, regardless of his or her religious belief or national identity. Following the words of Christ "Blessed are peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mt. 5:9), we proclaim peace and respect for the human dignity and rights. Every human being is an object of Divine Compassion; it is because of God's love that the Incarnation took place and that the Holy Spirit continues to work in our midst. This basic principle inspires the two sister Churches in their actions, service and cooperation.

His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East Visits His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Meetings are underway in Russia between His Beatitude Patriarch John X and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. In addition to the general report below, a joint statement has been issued appealing for peace in Syria.

The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church reports:

On 25 January 2014, at the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in St Daniel's Monastery, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, who is currently visiting the Russian Orthodox Church.

The delegation accompanying His Beatitude Patriarch John X on his visit includes Metropolitan Basilyos of Akkar; Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli; Archbishop Niphon of Filippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; archimandrite Philip (Yazegi); archimandrite Parthenius (Allati); archdeacon Gerasimus (Kabbas); and a number of lay people.

Patriarch John X of Antioch and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Issue Appeal on Syria

The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church reports:

On 26 January 2014, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Great Antioch and All the East and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made a joint statement addressed to the participants in the Geneva II International Conference on Syria. Taking part in the Conference are representatives of the opposing parties and the world community. The text of the Statement is given below.

We, Primates of fraternal Orthodox Churches, the Church of Antioch and the Russian Church, met in Moscow in order to once again bear witness to love in Christ, the love which our Churches have preserved intact through centuries and which is addressed to all people regardless their nationality, religion or political views.

Today our common prayers go to the long-suffering Syrian people undergoing unprecedented ordeals. The land, in which Muslims and Christians have lived together for centuries, has been filled with tears of those who are lamenting the death of their relatives and friends and who have been driven away from their homes. The calamity that has come to the once peaceful land spares neither old people nor children, neither Muslims nor Christians. No heart can remain indifferent to the horrible tragedy in Syria.

These days, Switzerland is hosting an international conference which gathered at the negotiating table representatives of the opposing parties and the world community. We address our ardent appeal to the participants in the meeting, asking them to exert every possible effort to end the bloodshed and restore peace in the blessed Syrian land.

PBS Highlights IOCC Syrian Work and Refugee Plight

A January 24, 2014 story on the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program, "Jordan's Syrian Refugees," was produced by the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS). The report featured the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) humanitarian response to Syrian refugees living in Jordan. A PBS team visited Syrian refugees living in a refugee camp and in the city of Amman and offered a firsthand look at the struggles and the heartaches of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled their country's civil war.

IOCC Country Representative for Jordan Dimitrije Djukic, spoke with PBS reporter Kim Lawton about IOCC's role, and about the difficulties faced by the refugees, arriving at a rate of some 300 a day. "According to the UN High Commission for Refugees," noted Lawton, "almost 600,000 Syrians have officially registered as refugees in this nation of 6.6 million. But aid workers say at least the same number have not registered, largely out of fear of retaliation from Syria. The UN and international aid agencies have been working to meet the dire needs. Faith-based groups are actively mobilizing as well, and many religious leaders say they provide a unique contribution in the midst of the crisis." The United Nations, pointed out Lawton, has described the situation as “the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of modern times.”

Watch the program on PBS.

Help the Orphans of War in Syria

from the January 2014 edition of The Word:

Syria! The name itself inspires awe and wonder. Archaeologists have proven that Syria was the cradle of civilization, and where agriculture and trade routes appeared for the first time. Its capital – Damascus – is widely considered to be the world's oldest city. Antioch was also part of early Syria and was invaded by the Roman armies in 64 B.C., making it the third-largest city in the Roman empire. Syria continued to grow and become a major center of trade and industry in the ancient world.

After the ministry, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ, it was in Syria where a young man named Saul (who later took the name Paul) was converted on his way to Damascus. It was in Antioch where St. Paul set off on many of his journeys to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Antioch, "the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26).

IOCC: Healing the Wounds of War in Syria

January 14, 2014 (Baltimore, MD)

Joumana will never forget the day she, her husband, and two children abandoned their home in the war-torn Syrian city of Homs. "The situation was getting worse and worse each day, but we didn't want to leave our neighborhood," Joumana recalled. The need to flee came suddenly when they witnessed her mother-in-law killed right before them. After a hasty burial, they left for Damascus with few possessions.

The horrifying memories of war and personal loss continue to haunt Joumana and her family more than a year after they were uprooted from their home and once peaceful life. They, like millions of other Syrians displaced by the conflict, have suffered enormous material and emotional losses that have taken a heavy toll on their mental health. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and its church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), are providing services to help affected families overcome their traumatic experiences and begin rebuilding their lives.

A Prayer for Peace in Syria
 Help the Orphans of War in Syria
Pray for the abducted Archbishops!
Metropolitan Paul of AleppoMetropolitan Paul of Aleppo
Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of AleppoMar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo