The Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch called on the Churches to unite and reconcile

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The Antiochian Patriarchate prays for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the Primate of the confessional Ukrainian Orthodox Church, whose children are persecuted for their faith by local authorities. This is stated in a statement following the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, held on October 16-21, 2023 in Balamand (Lebanon) Under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Great Antioch and All the East .

The Synod members, after discussing the events taking place in the Orthodox world, also called on all Churches to unite and reconcile, emphasizing that Orthodoxy transcends national differences and is called to proclaim the glory of God in His creation.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Holy Synod urged not to stop praying for the leaders of the Christian communities of Aleppo who were abducted in April 2013 – the hierarch of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Alexandretta, and Metropolitan Mar Gregory John of Aleppo (Syrian Church of the East) — and to continue to loudly remind about what happened. The hierarchs also condemned the silence of international organizations on this topic, which has been going on for more than ten years, and called for finding out the fate of the abducted hierarchs, whose example reveals the incessant suffering of the suffering peoples of the East.

The Synod fathers noted that now an atmosphere of murderous hatred reigns over the lands of the East, stressing: "Despite the disasters that overwhelm us, despite all the disappointments and despair, it is necessary to remind that God entrusted this land to people so that they would turn it into an oasis of peace, and not into a place of hell."

In connection with the tragic events currently taking place in Palestine, the Synod stressed: "The Church of Antioch condemns the blockade imposed today against the Palestinian people and the Gaza Strip in particular, and strongly condemns the genocide committed there right before the eyes of the whole world. The violence that is taking place is the result of violations of international norms and resolutions designed to promote justice." He called on the Antiochian parishes to devote the following Sunday to prayer for justice and peace, as well as to collect aid to help the affected people.

Since the current circumstances require increased prayer and cooperation, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Antioch decided to restore church communion with the Jerusalem Patriarchate and create a commission to communicate with the brothers from the Jerusalem Church in order to find a solution to the ecclesiastical dispute over the jurisdiction of Qatar. The Synod also decided to send a church delegation to Amman "to express the love of the believers of the Church of Antioch for the believers of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and to support them in these difficult fateful circumstances."

Members of the Synod of the Church of Antioch offered prayers for the stability of Syria and the cessation of acts of terrorism directed against it. They called for the lifting of the brutal economic blockade, stressing that the blockade pushes Syrians to emigrate and creates a wave of displacement that affects neighboring countries, and especially Lebanon.

Prayers were also offered for stability and justice in Lebanon, for the repose of those who died as a result of an explosion in the port of Beirut in 2020.

"The fathers are praying for Iraq and for all the peoples of the region," the statement said. "They call for giving priority to the spirit of dialogue in the region, and not to the language of military confrontation, the victims of which are the inhabitants of this country."

The members of the Synod repeated their call for an end to wars and conflicts around the world, including in Ukraine. "The fathers ask Jesus Christ, the Lord of peace and the God of all consolation, to eradicate by His mercy the power of war and the savagery of evil, to heal the wounds of the suffering and grieving in this world, which yearns and longs for His sweet peace," the document says.

Decisions were also made to glorify two Antiochian holy martyrs: Priest Nicholas Hashi, martyred in Mersin in 1917, and his son Priest Habib Hashi, martyred in Jabal al-Sheikh in 1948. The day of their commemoration will be July 16, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Holy Martyr Habib. At the request of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, the members of the Synod added to the calendar of the Antiochian Orthodox Church the memorial day of St. Raphael (Havavini), Bishop of Brooklyn. The Synod also blessed the Cathedral of the Saints of Antioch on the second Sunday after the feast of Holy Pentecost.

Turning to the topic of family values and noting the problems faced by families throughout the territory of the pastoral responsibility of the Patriarchate of Antioch, especially concerning children and youth, the archpastors called on all believers to adhere to faith and ethical principles, as well as social values. They stressed that this protects the institution of the family from various manipulations and distortions, including those that are spread in school curricula and in other ways "in the name of freedom and tolerance."

Other topics of the life of the Antiochian Church at home and abroad were touched upon. Among the issues discussed were the replacement of a number of vacant episcopal chairs and the election of new Patriarchal Vicar and secretary of the Synod.

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