Stories On Syria


Report from the Holy Synod of Antioch's October Meeting

The Patriarchate of Antioch reports:

The Holy Synod of Antioch held its second session from October 15th through 17th, 2013. His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X presided over the meeting, with the participation of Their Eminences, the Metropolitans and Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch: Spiridon of Zahleh and its dependencies; Georges of Jbeil, Batroun and their dependencies; Yuhanna of Lattakia and its dependencies; Elias of Beirut and its dependencies; Iliya of Hama and its dependencies; Elias of Tyre, Sidon; and their dependencies, Damaskinos of Sao Paulo and Brazil, Saba of Hawran and all Jebel al-Arab; George of Homs and its dependencies; Antonio of Mexico and Venezuela and their dependencies; Sergio of Chile; Silouan of Argentina; Basilios of Akkar and its dependencies; and Ephrem of Tripoli, al-Koura, and their dependencies. His Grace Bishop Ephrem (Maalouli), Patriarchal Vicar and Secretary of the Holy Synod, and Economos Georges Dimas, Record-keeper of the Synod, also participated in the meeting.

Their Eminences Metropolitans: Philip of New York and North America; Paul of Australia and New Zealand; and Constantine of Baghdad and Kuwait and their dependencies gave their regrets for not being able to attend. Metropolitan Boulos (Yazigi) of Aleppo and Alexandretta and their dependencies was present in the prayers and invocations of the Synod Fathers, despite his absence caused by his captivity.

After prayer and calling upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, His Beatitude opened the meeting by hoping that the Lord God may shower His blessings upon all the participants, so that they may rightly divide the Word of God's Truth to the believers and to all those who are thirsting for hope.

"A Great City": Illustrated History of Antioch Published

University of Florida Professor Emeritus Dr. Kevin McCarthy recently published Antioch on the Orontes: An Illustrated History, the story of the namesake city of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. The 280-page book contains over 200 illustrations of the city that was so vitally important in the history of Christianity. Many of the photos were taken by the author when he lived in the city during the period when he was researching the book.

"Archpriest Thomas Zain of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn and the Vicar General of the Antiochian Archdiocese, helped me with the book," notes Dr. McCarthy. "I wrote it to let more people know about the importance of a great city, ancient and modern Antioch, that many Americans are not aware of."

Over the course of his academic career, the professor of English lived in the Middle East in various locations. For one year he taught at the Lebanese National University in Beirut as a Fulbright Professor of English in the 70s, and for two years in the 1980s at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a Fulbright Professor of English.

AFR Interviews IOCC's Mark Ohanian About Refugee Outreach

Syrian refugee families (iocc.org)Syrian refugee families (iocc.org)On October 14, 2013, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR), in its program "Ancient Faith Presents," released a podcast interview with IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian in which the Director discusses the difficulties faced by Syria's swelling refugee population. IOCC is supporting one of the largest established efforts to provide aid to Syrians torn by civil war, and is one of the only international operations on the ground in Syria, working closely with His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch. There are 1.8 million refugees who now live in the countries surrounding Syria. 

"I was in the region about 2 weeks ago," notes Mr. Ohanian in the interview. "The most obvious thing I saw is that the needs are growing and becoming greater. This is a kind of conflict where there is no end in sight, and there's a constant flow of people who are avoiding conflict areas, migrating within Syria to safer areas, or leaving to a neighboring country.

"This humanitarian catastrophe and the need for resources are far, far greater than what we at IOCC have in place," he continues. "It is stretching everyone's capacities and the needs are unimaginable. We have not seen a scale of this kind of need since...arguably, the Second World War. Almost one third of the Syrian population is in need of assistance."

Listen to the full interview on AFR.

Antiochian Women Announce Project for Syria's War Orphans

By Dianne O'Regan, Vice President/NAB Project Coordinator, North American Board of the Antiochian Women

This summer at the Archdiocese Convention in Houston, Metropolitan Philip announced the new Antiochian Women Project for 2013-2014 (PDF). He has challenged us with a mission that is beyond bricks and mortar, but goes to the very heart and soul of our faith: “Help the Orphans of War in Syria.” His Eminence has asked the Antiochian Women to raise $200,000 towards this worthwhile Project. All monies raised will be distributed directly to the affected areas. 

When asked by His disciples who was the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven," our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called a little child to Him and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you ... become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-5).

Syrian Hierarchs Meet with Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

The official Website of the Department for External Relations, Russian Orthodox Church reported:

On 8 October 2013, the commemoration day of St. Sergius of Radonezh, after the Divine Liturgy and a thanksgiving celebrated in the Laura of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill met with the delegation of the Syrian hierarchs who attended the service.
The delegation includes Bishop Isaac of Apameia, vicar of the Damascus diocese (Patriarchate of Antioch); Archbishop Joseph Absi (Melkite Greek Catholic Church); Bishop Armash Nalbandian (Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin); Archbishop Mor Silwanos Butros (Peter) al-Ni'meh (Syriac Orthodox Church); and Archbishop Samir Nassar (Maronite Church).

Taking part in the meeting were also Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations; Archbishop Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR vice-chairman; and hieromonk Stefan Igumnov, a staff member of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations.

Fr. Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar General, Interviewed on Syria by Hellenic Public Radio

Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed at length on September 14 on the situation in Syria by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas of Hellenic Public Radio. The interview is available for listening below in its entirety.

His Beatitude Patriarch John X Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, met on Friday, September 27 with Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican in Rome. According to a report from Vatican Radio, "In his encounter with the Holy Father, the Patriarch spoke about the difficulties facing the Christian community in Syria and the surrounding region. He also talked about the plight of his own brother who was kidnapped last April, together with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo. The two leaders also shared their hopes for progress on the journey towards full Christian unity."

His Beatitude was interviewed by Vatican Radio after his meeting with Pope Francis. The interview is available here.

The following brief video report of the meeting has been made available by Rome Reports.

Metropolitan Philip Interviewed by Boston NPR on Syria

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.

His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:

"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."

Full interview available here.

Appeal from the Patriarchate of Antioch for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria

The Patriarchate of Antioch writes on September 24, 2013, the feast of St. Thekla:

Military acts are increasing in our beloved country Syria and Man pays a high price for this tragedy. So we see destruction prevailing in all the country and we see Man pained, displaced, hungry, thirsty and missing life in all places and at all times. One aspect of this tragedy touches the village Maloula and her Monastery of St. Thekla, a place of pilgrimage which witnesses to the continuous Christian presence of love from the first centuries of Christendom, in the one part, and testifies also to the deep relationship which links citizens to whatever religion they might belong.

The Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, a cultural monument, which belongs to all Syrian citizens, and at the same time, an international heritage belonging to all humanity, lives difficult and painful days at this time. The monastery is located in a region where there is exchange of fire and this renders it very difficult and dangerous for it to be provided and supplied. Recently, this exchange of fire damaged totally the electrical generator rendering it impossible to supply the monastery with water and threatening, therefore, the survival of this place.

Russian Christians Dig Deep to Help Syrians

nid%3D31316%7Ctitle%3D%7Cdesc%3DPhoto%3A%20voiceofrussia.com%7Clink%3DnodeFrom Pravmir.com

September 14, 2013

Ordinary Russians are largely opposed to any military action in Syria. But that doesn't mean they're indifferent to the plight of people there. Parishioners up and down the country have been collecting money to send to troubled Syrians. In the past few months Russian churchgoers have sent $1.3 million to Syria.

They've dispatched the money to a Greek Orthodox church in Damascus, which will buy Syrians basic goods like food, clothes, and mattresses. 

The collection started when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, called upon Russian Christians to donate cash in June.
Since then Russians in churches as far away as Vladivostok and Murmansk have given money to be sent to Syria.

The collection started when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, called upon Russian Christians to donate cash in June.

Since then Russians in churches as far away as Vladivostok and Murmansk have given money to be sent to Syria. 

Read the full article

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