Stories On Syria
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba delivered the following speech at the evening prayer service at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, in Little Falls, New Jersey for the release of the two abducted Archbishops, Youhanna Ibrahim, and Boulos Yazgi. It is also an appeal to all Arabs in the Middle East and overseas. The speech is also available to download in Arabic (PDF).
Most Reverend Archbishops and beloved brothers and sisters,
We are gathered this evening to pray for the repose of the souls of the Arab martyrs who were killed in a vain war which history never experienced. When President Zain Al'abedeen was overthrown by a revolution in Tunisia, and when Colonel Mou'ammar Alqathafee was overthrown by another revolution in Libya, the United States said: "This is the Arab Spring."
In the Word Magazine, published in June which expresses the opinion of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in North America, I wrote an editorial titled: "Is this an Arab Spring or a tornado?" This tornado extended to wounded Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, beloved Syria, and beautiful Lebanon, while Jordan is standing in these days on the edge of the abyss. After the Zionists' gangs defeated all Arab armies during the ﬁrst war between Arabs and Israel, the great Syrian poet ‘Omar Abou Reshee, and with much indignation, delivered a poem in Aleppo which he said:
My nation, do you have among other nations a pulpit for the sword or pen?
I look at you with much sadness ashamed from your past which has vanished.
My nation, how many idols you gloriﬁed which did not have the purity of an idol?
On the Occasion of the Antiochian Day of Solidarity Scheduled for September 15, 2013
In Support of Humanitarian and Relief Work
By the mercy of God John X Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Giving is the Criterion of our Belonging to the Reign of God “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25: 40)
The Holy Antiochian Synod has set the 15th of September of this year as a day of solidarity for all local and international parishes in order to support the humanitarian and relief work, which the Patriarchate of Antioch and the All the East has undertaken in the collaboration of national, governmental, ecclesiastic, and civil entities. The amount of pain and suffering endured by our sons and brothers in Syria until today is beyond any description. Moreover, the available resources are limited and can only cover a small part of the basic and essential needs of life, such as food, water, clothing, medicine, medical treatment, and shelter.
Resolution Appealing to the United States Government to Broker Lasting Peace Based Upon Fairness in Syria
WHEREAS, the Country of Syria has been victimized by a ravaging War over the past two and a half years;
AND WHEREAS on April 22, 2013 two Orthodox Archbishops were abducted in the suburbs of Aleppo and their whereabouts continues to remain a mystery not having received any information from their abductors;
AND WHEREAS, in the recent past, members of the clergy have been murdered and houses of worship decimated and destroyed by armed militants opposing the government of Syria;
AND WHEREAS, many citizens of Syria have demanded civil liberties, democratic values and economic stability;
AND WHEREAS, as a result of this illegitimate war countless lives have been lost and more than two million Syrian citizens have been forced to flee their homes and reduced to the status of refugees and are now seeking refuge in Lebanon, Jordan and other parts of the world; there has been billions of dollars in property damage and the country of Syria, a cradle of the beginning of civilization, now lies in ruins;
AND WHEREAS, foreign countries have been meddling in the affairs of Syria and thousands of foreign militants have come to Syria bringing pillage, death and destruction;
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — By day, Rasha is known throughout her church community in Amman as the compassionate woman who visits Jordanian families and Syrian refugees in need and brings them relief items such as blankets, food and personal hygiene kits provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in Jordan. By night, few are aware that Rasha returns to her family and a life of poverty worse than many of those she seeks to help.
Her situation is shared by a growing number of Jordanians whose standard of living has suffered as a result of the Syrian refugee influx. With the flood of refugees who have arrived during the last two years seeking private accommodations over the conditions in the refugee camps, monthly rents are rising faster than wages for Jordanians.
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The Primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, who came to Moscow for the celebration of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia, adopted the joint Statement. The main theme of the Statement is the situation of Christians in the Middle East. On 25 of July 2013, the Primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. On behalf of all those present at the meeting, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia handed over the text of the Statement to Mr. Putin.
We, heads and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, who have come to Moscow on the occasion of the celebration of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia at the invitation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, consider it our duty to raise our voice in defense of our Christian brothers subjected to persecution for their faith in various parts of the world today.
Every day thousands of believers in Christ are being tortured and driven out of their native lands; many people meet their death. Read the full statement of the Primates.
The Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations reported today that with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service is continuing to coordinate a fund-raising campaign to help those affected by the armed conflict in Syria. Noted the Department's Website, "Among those transferring money are dioceses, monasteries, churches and individuals."
"Surely, we have received such a good response thanks to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill which was very convincing,” explained The Rev. Vladimir Vigiliansky, rector of the Moscow Church of St. Tatiana. On June 25, 2013, His Holiness addressed the faithful in a letter, in which he stated:
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place.
"For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25:35-36
The faithful of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, PA have organized in an effort to identify and locate newcomers who are seeking refuge in the United States, reports the Very Rev. Anthony Sabbagh. "The largest Syrian community in the United States is here in the Allentown area," explains Fr. Anthony. "People in Syria are contacting their relatives to come to the United States in order to escape persecution and poverty; their homes are demolished, their jobs are gone. Their families here can apply for them to come since our government has opened the doors for Syrians, who are now coming to Allentown in numbers."
The Archdiocese has received the following authoritative information:
"Executive Order 13528, signed by President Barack Obama on 17 August 2011, includes an exemption under General License No. 6 authorizing U.S. registered financial institutions the ability to transfer funds to individuals in Syria. Attached is a copy of General License No. 6 signed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). As parishioners encounter challenges in transferring funds, they may provide this documentation to their financial institution or call OFAC's hotline (202) 622-2480. It is important to have all relevant information on the intended transaction, including the names of the financial institutions in the U.S. and Syria."
The Holy Antiochian Synod assembled between the 17th and 20th of June 2013 in the first ordinary session presided over by His Beatitude John X and attended by Their Eminences the Metropolitans George (Mount Lebanon and its dependencies), Elia (Hama and dependencies), Elias (Saida, Tyre and dependencies), Anthony (Mexico, Venezuela and dependencies), Sergios (Chile), Damaskinos (Brazil and dependencies), Saba (Hauran and Arabia), Boulos (Australia), George (Homs and dependencies), Silouan (Argentina), Basilios (Arkadias and dependencies), Efrem (Tripoli, Koura and dependencies).
Apologies for the absence were received from their Eminences Spiridon (Zahle and dependencies), Philip (New York and North America), Constantine (Bagdad, Kuwait and dependencies), Youhanna (Lattakia and dependencies), Elias (Beirut and dependencies) and Metroplitan Paul (Aleppo, Alexandretta and dependencies, who though absent on account of his captivity, attended in spirit through the prayers of the fathers of the Synod and their supplications.
Since the so-called Arab Spring began in Libya in 2011, we have seen the devastation and destruction of that Arab country by Libyan and NATO forces. This Arab Spring has since spread to Tunisia and Egypt, the most populated Arab country. This fire has burned relentlessly in Gaza and all of Palestine since 1948. It is spreading into Jordan, Bahrain, and Iraq and has caused the most devastation in Syria, where many of us have ancestral roots. Unfortunately, the American and European news outlets are not reporting such stories to the world, neither through the written word nor graphic photographs like the ones you see in this sad issue of The WORD magazine. The WORD has been able to obtain these pictures and information from reliable sources. Syria has been most victimized and experienced the most devastation by this seemingly endless war. The WORD believes that the only country that can bring peace to this most explosive region of the world is the United States of America, because America has leverage over Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Europe.