ATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST – Almoutran
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ATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST

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The Word Magazine March, 1985 Page 4

SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF

THE MOST BLESSED IGNATIUS IV

PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST

This coming summer our Father-in Christ, His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV will make his first archpastoral visit to the Archdiocese of North America since his accession to the patriarchal throne in 1979. Selections from his numerous writings will appear in the next four issues of THE WORD in order to familiarize our readers with his views on several important issues confronting contemporary Orthodoxy. The first installment in this series deals with the “Orthodox diaspora” (The Orthodox Church in traditionally non-Orthodox regions of the world, such as Western Europe, the Americas, Australia, etc.) — a topic of immediate concern to ourArchdiocese.

The importance of the issue of the diaspora is expressed by the fact that it has been placed first on the agenda often topics accepted for consideration and decision at the forthcoming Great and Holy Council of world-wide Orthodoxy. The study and clarification of this topic has been assigned to five sees: the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Moscow, Romania and the Church of Greece. The following statement, authored by Patriarch IGNATIUS IV was adopted by the Antiochian Holy Synod and submitted as the official position of our Patriarchate.

THE ORTHODOX DIASPORA

As is known to you, the Antiochian See considered it its responsibility to express thoughts and suggestions concerning the problem of the diaspora. Allow me to pass on to you the ideas and proposals which I was able to collect from our Synodical organization.

We have made ourselves familiar with the articles that were published a few years ago concerning this problem. We have also studied the correspondence concerning the diaspora between the different Orthodox Sees. Discussion with personalities who are in charge of the Orthodox diaspora has to a great extent made us understand the viewpoints which previously appeared to us very difficult or impossible to comprehend. All this as well as the frequent reports on the condition of Orthodoxy in (Western) Europe, America, Australia and elsewhere gave us a basis for putting forward the following conclusions and convictions:

1.) The Orthodox diaspora has reached such a maturity that it is necessary to consider it from a new viewpoint and

in such a way that it leads to resolution.

2.) We must see it as the vocation of the Orthodox diaspora not only to preserve the past for the present, but to become a dynamic and creative element in its own environment.

3.) To preserve the wholeness of the Church and to strengthen the Orthodox witness, it is necessary to accomplish the Orthodox oneness in the various fields of the diaspora.

From these points we reach the following conclusions:

1.) It is desirable that the Council should recognize all the Orthodox churches in the diaspora provided there is no serious cause not to do so.

2.) It is desirable that local synods should be created comprising the bishops of the Orthodox churches of the area in question as their members. This should be realized especially in (Western) Europe, America, Australia, and also elsewhere as far as necessary.

3.) Autocephaly should be granted to all the churches of the countries mentioned above. The local synods of the autocephalous mother churches should decide on it and determine its boundaries.

4.) The traditional apostolic and catholic regulations of the Orthodox Church should be followed so that in each city there would be only one bishop, and in each province there would be only one metropolitan.

5.) The relationships between the mother churches and the diaspora churches are to be kept brotherly and cordial, as is natural to the Orthodox spirit and to the extent that all is for one and one is for all.

6.) Within the parishes there should be preserved the cultural, linguistic and other national elements, in so far as they do not disrupt the unity of the local church or the wholeness of the local diocese.

7.) While the autocephaly is carried into effect it is desirable that the other Christian denominations of these areas be respectfully recognized so that our diaspora would not in its own existence forget the higher goal, the oneness of the whole Church, and that they would not become a hindrance to that unity.

Patriarch IGNATIUS in his study at the Parriarchate.

The Word Magazine April 1985 Page 5

SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF

THE MOST BLESSED IGNATIUS IV

PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST

AN APPEAL TO

THE LEBANESE PEOPLE

I was stunned by the tremendous exodus of people and by the events of massacres that have brought us back to a period we thought was of the past. We beg God that these tragedies may stop at this point and that you will not lose hope in the power of man to accept grace.

The gravity of calamities is not in destruction and arson, because stone can be rebuilt by human beings; but the gravity is in the dispersion of friends, in the shadow of struggle, in imposed poverty, and in the burden of prolonged stay in homes of generous friends or relatives.

Who will give us back, in this large exodus, these faces that were mutilated and hated, to be rebeautified through forgiveness? Who willing bring us back to each other? Has blood become the sole language of Lebanon? Grief is now beyond all descriptions. Stop shedding blood, you butchers! Stop and follow the right path, for how can we dream of returning to our homes if your hearts do not come to us, that all will be purified?

In the days of bliss, we shall have our say in how we can coexist. Blood, exodus, looting, human degradation through destroying their houses, are things that should end immediately, so we may feel that we have entered the beginnings of peace in which hope could appear. With hope we shall take our time in building what can be built together, not to act wildly and ignore the heritage of the various religions.

If a new eagerness to rebuild this great nation appears, we would then be receiving a favour and kindness from God. Before that, we will do our utmost to look after as many as we can of our displaced children, until the storm calms. We will not stop seeking solutions here and there, so that the realities of the Lebanese situation may become less painful and closer to mercy.

With all that, the Lebanese people are suffering and no one blinks an eye, debating what is not subject for debate, i.e. LIFE!

We get used to saying and accepting that countries have interests. We believe that countries are to serve the people — all the people; and what justifies the rising of a state is the triumph of the weak on earth.

Yes, we shout for help of the nations, hoping that they will not just watch the inflictions which we endure but will safely open the roads so we can bury our dead and look for the missing ones. Those whom affliction befell are innocent, redeeming us; but do the innocent have to be sacrificed, era after era, as if this world does not have room for different races, religions or creeds?

I hope that by the time these words reach you, mercy would have started untying the knot. Strengthen yourselves in the grace and the word of our Lord.

JERUSALEM AND THE

PALESTINIANS

Justice is a divine spark; it is an intimacy with God which discloses true obedience to the Divine Being. We long for the Creator of Heaven and Earth and always seek his divine propitiation. From the overflowing of his loving kindness we pray for an abundance of blessings upon every man who struggles for and defends the realization of truth and the shunning of falsehood. The current prevalence of falsehood does not diminish our determination, for our faith is as solid as the mountains. In the end, falsehood will be crushed which is its ultimate destiny.

Jerusalem is the foundation of our humanity. What afflicts the Holy City afflicts each and every human being. Our relationship with and commitment to Jerusalem is longstanding. We pray, for she is the city of prayer with which we have an eternal, spiritual, faith relationship. Everyone who believes in the One God worships in her; and it is in Jerusalem that he meets his brother and comes to realize that the Holy City has one spiritual, religious, humane identity which must not be reduced to mere political exploitation.

The Palestinians are the rightful inhabitants of that land. Is it right to treat them as visitors and strangers in their own home? Can they be denied their right to abide in Jerusalem? Jerusalem is Jerusalem only if it is the city and her people — not the city without her people or vice versa. If it were that God tested the Palestinian people by dispersion for some time, it does not mean that the people have lost their connectedness to the land by which they had been sanctified to which they made pilgrimage-

in which they confided their deepest emotions to their God in the very best possible way. Jerusalem belongs to her people and not to racism. Racism in Jerusalem, as everywhere, is a stain on the face of truth and justice! We firmly believe that the Palestinians have a free right to have their own country, statehood and human dignity, because they are not in God’s love less than anyone else. Theirs is a noble cause and we are ready to support all similar movements towards justice and human rights.

In Jerusalem and in Lebanon we seek the face of God. Lebanon is bleeding profusely and suffers from wounds which are much more serious than those which can be healed by sighing and sorrowing. Lebanon looks to its brotherly countries in expectation of the love which will heal its deep wounds. Such fraternal love is essentially immeasurable and limitless.

Today Lebanon seeks Jerusalem in her uniqueness and originality. And today the Holy City seeks Lebanon. They are the two cornerstones for peace in the Arab world.