The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X, pays a visit to Romania on the occasion of the Saint Andrew commemorations who is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on November 30, at the invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel to pray together for the peace in Syria and around the world. His Beatitude Patriarch of Antioch and All the East was officially welcomed on Friday by the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Upon the arrival of the high delegation of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East a Te Deum Mass was officiated by the Patriarchal Vicar Varlaam Ploiesteanul who was accompanied by a group of priests and deacons.
“We are extremely honored and at the same time very glad that Your Beatitude finds time to come to us in a brotherly visit and to pray together in this cathedral and to celebrate together the Divine Liturgy in a great day for the Romanian people, namely commemoration of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First Called, the Protector of Romania. We wish you a warm welcome and, these days, in addition to all visits that you will make here, we will have the opportunity to be informed directly about the situation of Christians suffering in the Middle East and especially in Syria, “said Patriarch Daniel.
In turn, His Beatitude John X, thanked for constant support the Romanian Orthodox Church gives to the Antioch Church. He also expressed the pain that Christians live in the Patriarchate of Antioch, in the context of the war in Syria “Syria pays with the blood of her sons the price dignity and sovereignty. We’ve always said that the solution in Syria comes only through political and peaceful dialogue. We are tired of sweetened slogans sweetened. The only goal should be recovering total peace throughout Syria, and we know that it is not impossible because we all remember very well how was this land – a country of peace – until 2011. We don’t want to see our country as a land of border terrorism, “said the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.
His Beatitude John X is for the first time in Romania, as Patriarch of Antioch. He spoke of “strong and godly faith of Romanian Orthodox Christian people who suffered during the communist regime and resisted, keeping the faith alive”. “This kind of faith also comforts us in Antioch and gives us the strength to resist and keep our faith and hope that we also will survive by the grace and help of God. (…) From here, the Christianity started and spread all over the world. We have been here before the Islam and we will remain further. The Church refuses to use religion as a pretext for separation between peoples. Religion does not divide but unites. Church refuses terrorism and killing for any reason, “the Patriarch of Antioch said. He reminded the Romanian Orthodox prompt response to the call of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church for helping the Syrian Orthodox people. “This gesture puts into practice the words of the Sacred Scripture:” It is more blessed to give than to receive. This prompt response of our brothers from Romania touched our hearts and it was a great comfort to believers in Antioch, who felt that they are not alone and have real brothers who support them both materially and through their prayers, “added His Beatitude John X. The Patriarch of Antioch added that the war directly affected the Church. “Many monuments, churches, monasteries, hospitals and Christian schools were destroyed, burned and looted in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, in the East and on the coast. This is why we, as Patriarchate, have a big responsibility to restore these monuments particularly important. (…) It should be noted that this means the destruction of the entire cultural and spiritual civilization from these places, not only of the Church. The artifacts of a 10,000 years old civilization are exposed to terrorist acts ” said the high hierarch.
President Basescu and Patriarch Teoctist express solidarity with Christians in Syria severely affected by the war, pledge Romania’s commitment to strengthen further relations with the Christians from the Patriarchate of Antioch
Their Beatitudes, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Patriarch of Romania were received on Friday by the President of Romania, Mr. Traian Basescu. During the meeting, President Basescu expressed Romania’s concern for the plight in Syria, where a great number of Christians and civilians lost their lives due to violence and religious persecution, informed a press release of the Presidential Administration and published on www.presidency.ro The Head of State also expressed solidarity with the families of the victims, showing also the importance of cooperation between state and church in order to identify solutions to ensure peace and dialogue between cultures and communities belonging to different religions in a spirit of tolerance, knowledge and respect. In turn, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness John X thanked for the warm welcome and for the constant support Romania has always shown for the situation in Syria. On That occasion, His Holiness also expressed again his gratitude to the Romanian Orthodox Church and to the Romanian people’s involvement, who have contributed with material donations to help families of Christians in Syria. In this context, the Romanian Orthodox Church stressed the need to strengthen relations with the Christian community in Syria, promoting academic exchanges and mutual assistance. During the meeting, the high senior officials from the both delegations discussed about the constant danger that is represented by the rise of terrorism, stressing that the Islamic State (ISIL) is a dramatic reality, and that fact that ISIL gains new fans every day, forces both sides to reflect on the solutions the Church, in dialogue with governments and society, can identify to end this scourge.
Church of Antioch, one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Rome
The Orthodox Church of Antioch goes back to the time of the apostles. It is one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome. In the 4th century the total Christian population of the eastern province of the Roman Empire, of which Antioch was the capital, was under its jurisdiction, and in the 6th century it had more than 150 metropolitans and bishops. Since then, however, the number has gone down because of the division of the church, the heresies of the 4th and 5th centuries, the granting of independence to the churches of Cyprus and Iberia, the Islamic advance in the 7th century and the formation of the Uniate Church in the 18th century. Since the beginning of the 20th century, especially after the second world war, an enormous number of Orthodox people belonging to the Church of Antioch have been emigrating or moving from the countryside to the big towns and to different parts of the world (Europe, Latin and North America, Australia). The jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East covers all of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, the Arabian peninsula, the whole orient and also certain areas of southern Turkey (Antioch region where there are six Antiochian congregations). It also extends to the Arab-speaking Orthodox who live in Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. The holy synod is the highest ecclesiastical authority of Antioch and consists of the patriarch as president and the metropolitans who are the diocesan leaders as members. Priests are trained at St John of Damascus theological faculty at Tripoli, Lebanon and the theological seminary at Patriarchal St George Monastery, Syria. Currently there are 100 students.
The Patriarchate is greatly concerned about the suffering in the Middle East, the creation of a Palestinian state, and its responsibilities for its people in the midst of a multi-religious society. An authentic witness to the Christian faith, pastoral care of youth, and reorganization of its establishment in order to express more clearly its apostolicity and its unity, are high on its agenda. Particular emphasis is laid on the coherence of the family which is the centre of the church and the source of spiritual formation, as well as on youth who represent the active elements of the church and its future leaders. Besides, the diaconal services and ecumenical activities have a significant place on the agenda of the Patriarchate today.