Sunday, June 26, 2011

Press Release from the Holy Synod of Antioch's Recent Session--- Political Issues in the Middle East

This translation is very much unofficial. The Arabic original is available here.

Press Relase from the Holy Synod of Antioch
at its 47th regular session at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand
July 23, 2011

The following statement was released by the secretariat of the Holy Synod of Antioch:

On the bases of its rootedness in the Middle East, bearing a message of love, brotherhood, and interconnectedness with others, and interacting creatively with our Muslim brothers, our partners in the nation, to build an Arab civilization deeply rooted in this Middle East, and an effective Orthodox contribution, the Holy Synod affirms the centrality of the Muslim-Christian encounter as the bright side of the mission of the Arab Middle East.

At the heart of Orthodoxy is an intense desire to build a single humanity united by faith in the one God. It does not discriminate among God's creation according to color, race or religion and has practiced this belief through its relationships with Muslims and with all the churches and Christian groups.

The future of the Orthodox in the region is tied to the rootedness and history of their presence, a presence that has been built for centuries on the foundation of total cooperation with all their brothers. There will be no true revival for the region without common effort in courage and objectivity about the domination, subjugation, ignorance, poverty, and unemployment that our countries suffer.

The Holy Synod calls upon its children to engage with the issues facing our countries and peoples, to hold fast to their land, and to develop their societies through the establishment of economic, civil, and educational institutions that will bring general benefit to all and will secure their existence in their land.

The Synod hopes that the political leaders and their peoples in all the Arab Middle East will rely on a language of dialogue and reason in resolving the problems that face them and that they will apply a policy of securing the citizens' interests, especially those directly affecting them, such as free education, health insurance, and an abundance of opportunities for jobs that provide suitible income and a dignified living in order to preserve stability and civil peace, economic flourishing, and to combat emigration.

In Lebanon, the Orthodox have continuously striven to build up a nation for all, not to divide it or to create distinctions within it. Their basic goal was to erect a regime based on equality and competence. However, faced with the current sectarian logic in Lebanon, we insist that our rights to political and administrative positions within the state not be encroached upon and we ask for assurance of total equity and a return to applying the principle of equality in appointments, especially in high administrative positions (first-class positions).

The Orthodox look to the state as an institution that embraces all its citizens within a framework of freedom and responsibility. For them, the state ensures the freedom of religious groups and individuals and it is not the religious groups that secure the freedom of the state. When Orthodox citizens had a distinguished role in establishing and spreading the Lebanese message of tolerance in the Arab Middle East, they established the political and administrative responsibilities that they set up as a means to build the foundations of the state and not as a means to attack it.

With regard to the composition of the new government in Lebanon, the Synod hopes that it will succeed in its difficult economic, social, and administrative tasks and it calls for earnest work to solve people's problems and concerns through the realization of justice, stability, and flourishing for the mighty Lebanese people.

In light of the circumstances and current developments that the Arab world is witnessing, the Synod hopes that Syria, this Arab nation heroic both in its contemporary history and in its glorious past, will return internal stability in order to make it possible, through corresponding realization of the desired reforms, to fulfill its active role on the regional stage that has been and continues to be the pivotal point of its zeal and conscience.

The Synod believes that just and comprehensive peace in the region will not be realized except through a solution to the Palestinian issue that allows the Palestinians to reside in their own sovereign and independent country within the 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as their capital. The Palestinian state is a national right whose time for realization has come, so that the Palestinian people, wherever they are found, can return to their nation to live in honor, peace, and stability.

The Synod believes that the Arab world is urgently in need of of general calm in which the leaders and authorities will apply themselves to developing their societies, modernizing the state, educating the people, and respecting the legitimacy of human rights. It calls upon the Arab states to effectively collaborate to anchor a world civilization in which the Middle Eastern spirit by which we are distinguished has the lofty position that it deserves.

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