Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Holy Synod of Antioch's Decision of April 29, 2014

This is an unofficial translation. I will remove it once the official English version is released. The original Arabic can be found here and the official French translation can be found here.

Communique from the Holy Synod of Antioch

Balamand, April 29, 2014

The Holy Synod of Antioch held an extraordinary session on April 29, 2014 at the Saint John of Damascus Institute at Balamand, presided by His Beatitude John X and with the presence of Their Eminences Georges (Mount Lebanon), Youhanna (Lattakia), Elias (Beirut), Iliya (Hama), Saba (Hawran), George (Homs), Basilios (Akkar), Ephrem (Tripoli), Ignatius (France) and Isaac (Germany).

Participating also were the bishops: Mousa Khoury, Ghattas Hazim, Kosta Kayyal, Athanasius Fahd, Dimitri Sharbak, Iliya Tohme, Nicholas Baalbaki and the patriarchal vicar Bishop Ephrem Maalouli, the secretary of the Holy Synod along with Economos George Dimas.

Absent were Their Emminences: Spiridon (Zahle), Constantine (Baghdad and Kuwait), Iliya (Tyre and Sidon), Antonius (Mexico), Sergius (Chile), Damaskinos (Brazil), Siluan (Argentina) and Paul (Australia).

Metropolitan Paul (the Archdiocese of Aleppo, Alexandretta and Their Dependencies), absent due to his captivity, was present in the prayers and supplications of the fathers of the Synod.

After praying, the fathers commemorated Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory and all the labors he offered to the Church of Christ, praying to the Lord of the Resurrection to place him to dwell in His light.

The fathers of the Synod reviewed the painful situation that our region is living through, especially in Syria, affirming that they stand beside our people "whose every tear God will wipe away." They renewed their call to preserve the principles of coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Syria, Lebanon and all the Middle East, re-affirming the positions that they had previously announced. The fathers of the Synod renewed their appeal to the world to release the captives, among whom are the two metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and Youhanna, who have been kidnapped for a year amidst a scandalous silence in the Arab world and internationally.

The fathers called for constitutional requirements to be fulfilled in Syria and Lebanon on schedule and within the constitutional deadline in order to preserve the foundations of the civil state-- sovereignty, stability and coexistence-- which will be for the benefit of these countries and for human development and well-being within them.

The fathers treated  the situation of the Church in general and reviewed the latest developments in the dispute with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Whereas on March 4, 2013 the Patriarchate of Jerusalem elected Archimandrite Makarios as metropolitan of the diocese of Qatar after creating this diocese which is located within the borders of the Archdiocese of Iraq, Kuweit the Arabian Peninsula and Their Dependencies under the Patriarchate of Antioch;

And whereas on April 10, 2013 this patriarchate consecrated the aforementioned archimandrite as "metropolitan" for this newly-created diocese despite the objection of the Patriarch of Antioch to its establishment and the election, which he expressed in a telephone call to the Patriarch of Jerusalem and to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch;

And whereas His Beatitude the Patriarch of Antioch accompanied his verbal objection with two written letters dated March 6 and 8, 2013, addressed to His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem and His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, which did not receive any response;

And whereas the Holy Synod of Antioch held an extraordinary session on March 13, 2013 to examine this issue and its repercussions, where it resolved to consider the actions of the Church of Jerusalem as a violation of the boundaries of the Patriarchate of Antioch and asked the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to "remedy the situation as soon as possible" so that "(the Patriarchate of Antioch) will not be forced to take steps leading to breaking communion with the See of Jerusalem and to re-examining inter-Orthodox relations and the Geneva agreements made by the preparatory committee for the Great and Holy Orthodox Council regarding the Orthodox diaspora;

And whereas Antiochian delegations visited the sister Orthodox churches to present this issue to them and to make way for a peaceful solution, in order to avoid dangers that "could threaten the Universal Church";

And whereas the Holy Synod of Antioch at its first regular session in June 2013 examined the letters exchanged with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem regarding this issue and resolved to accept the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to hold a meeting between the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens on Friday, June 21, 2013;

And whereas this meeting was held on the agreed-upon date, leading to an agreement on a three-point initiative based on returning the situation to the status quo prior to the episcopal consecration and following this an examination of the pastoral presence of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Qatar according to the established tradition of the Church;

And whereas the Patriarchate of Jerusalem reneged on the aforementioned agreement and persisted in its violation encroachment despite all the initiatives and mediation undertaken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek government to solve this crisis according to the canons of the Church and in a spirit of peace; at its second regular session held in October 2013, the Holy Synod of Antioch once more discussed this issue and, in order to prioritize a peaceful solution over other solutions, resolved upon the necessity "of finding a solution to this crisis within a period of no more than two months from the date of the Synod's meeting and, in the case of the Church of Jerusalem not responding to the Church of Antioch's request that  it put an end to the encroachment upon its canonical territory, asking His Beatitude to take the necessary actions, including breaking communion";

And whereas the Patriarch of Antioch received the invitation to sit at the synaxis of the heads of the Orthodox churches at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar from March 7-9, 2014, he suspended the implementation of this decision and, in the letter accepting the invitation, asked His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch to work to find a solution to this issue before the synaxis of the heads of the churches;

And whereas this issue was not dealt with at the preparatory meetings for the synaxis of the Orthodox churches, and it was not placed on the agenda of the synaxis, despite the request of the Antiochian delegation;

And whereas every effort to resolve the issue have run into a wall of failure;

The Patriarchate of Antioch decided to suspend its signing the final communique of the synaxis of the heads of the churches and not to participate at the closing liturgy on the occasion of the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

On the basis of all of the above, and faced with the obstinacy of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and its persistence in violating the territory of the Patriarchate of Antioch, despite all the peaceful initiatives made by the latter to avoid breaking communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem , and faced with the inability of the Orthodox churches to contribute to resolving this crisis according to the requirements of the canons of the Church;

And faced with the insistence of the patriarch of Jerusalem in his letter dated February 29, 2014 that was sent to the Antiochian delegation to Fanar / the Ecumenical Patriarchate on renewing his claim that "Syria and Arabia" fall within the Patriarchate of Jerusalem;

The Holy Synod of Antioch once more affirms that the Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait, the Arabian Peninsula and Their Dependencies is an archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Antioch that contains within its territory the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman and Yemen; and that any Orthodox presence in any of these countries must follow the established tradition of the Church and the rules of Church law that govern relations between churches.

The Synod decided the following:

1. To request that the patriarch of Antioch not to commemorate the patriarch of Jerusalem in the diptychs (the list of heads of the Orthodox churches), when he commemorates the patriarchs and heads of the Orthodox churches.

2. To cancel the second paragraph of Resolution No. 2-5/2013 adopted at the meeting of the Synod held in October 2013, as it has achieved its purpose; and to return the Antiochian presence at the "episcopal assemblies" in the diaspora as they were before the aforementioned decision.

3. To request that His Beatitude address the heads of the sister Orthodox churches to inform them of the circumstances of this resolution and to ask them to move to solve this crisis whose consequences will lead to impeding the witness to Orthodox unity.

4. To authorize His Beatitude to take the necessary measures to implement this resolution  or to stop its effects if the reasons for its adoption cease.

The fathers followed up on other Church issues and examined the issue of forming a clerical disciplinary appeals tribunal and decided that its composition of titular and interim members is as follows: Metropolitan Elias of Beirut, titular president; Metropolitan Isaac of Germany, interim president; Bishop Athanasius Fahd, titular member; Bishop Dimitri Sharbak, titular member; bishop Nicholas Baalbaki, interim member; Bishop Iliya Tohme, interim member; Archimandrite Youhanna Batsh, secretary of the tribunal; Archimandrite Ibrahim Daoud, assistant secretary; and Mr Elias Nicholas Moussi as general ecclesial delegate to the tribunal.

In closing, the fathers of the Synod offered prayer for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world and offered paschal greetings to all their children in the homeland and the diaspora, asking them to pray that God may pour out His peace, that He relieves every soul with the power and hope of Christ who suffers and rises from the tomb, and that He covers all His creation with the light of His glorious resurrection.


Anonymous said...

Any reaction from Jerusalem or Constantinople?

Samn! said...

No... throughout this whole crisis, both Constantinople and Jerusalem have made no public statements aside from Jerusalem's inflammatory letter in February.

It is noteworthy, though, that on April 28, the patriarch of Jerusalem met with the Qatari ambassador to Jordan-- http://www.jp-newsgate.net/en/2014/04/28/6676#more-6676