Press Release from the Patriarchal Residence
On the Occasion of the Meeting of His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV
With Orthodox Deputies in Lebanon
Balamand Monastery, August 12 2011
His Beatitude Ignatius IV (Hazim), Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, held a meeting with his children, ministers from the Orthodox community, on Thursday, August 11 at the Greek Orthodox metropolitan’s residence in Beirut. He held a meeting with his children, deputies from the community on Friday, August 12 at the patriarchal residence at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. During the two meetings, there was an extensive dialogue about the Orthodox role in Lebanon in particular and more generally in the Arab East and the emigration.
This is the first time that such meetings have been held in the presence of the patriarch and they will be repeated on account of the delicate historical stage through which the countries of the Arab East are passing and on account of the leading role of the Orthodox, not only because they are the largest and most widespread Christian community in the region, but also because they are distinguished by their openness to Muslims and Christians of other Middle Eastern Churches.
It is natural for the leader of the Orthodox community to meet with those who represent the community to Lebanon, who bear the concerns of their community and who seek the good of those whom they represent. Each one of them has his place and his role in the community and in Lebanon.
His Beatitude expressed his love for those present and his respect for the responsibilities put on their shoulders, stressing the role that the Orthodox in Lebanon, in the Arab East, and in the emigration must play in the mother countries. This should be on the basis of their faith, their moral principles, their belonging to their nation, and their role in directing overall policy. His Beatitude likewise affirmed the special place that Lebanon and the Lebanese, Christians and Muslims, occupy in his heart and mind and their permanent presence in his prayers and supplications.
The patriarch, the ministers, and the deputies who were present agreed that the Church respects political diversity and complete freedom for all her children in choosing their political orientation, though they are all called to a single common denominator that is loyalty to the nation, striving to develop it on the basis of freedom, justice, and equality, and working with their brothers in citizenship for the good of the nation and of humanity.
With regard to the Orthodox role in directing general policy and offering administrative services, His Beatitude, the ministers, and the deputies who were present agreed to work so that the Orthodox community receives its rights in terms of recognized political and administrative positions. This is not in order to serve narrow self-interest, but in order to secure what is soundest and most effective in politics and administration, knowing that the Orthodox community has many members who are competent and capable of assuming positions in all fiends. They likewise stressed that securing opportunities for service in general departments in Lebanon for citizens from the Orthodox community should not come through quotas but through making them available to the community so that it can have the honor of serving the nation in the best way.
In closing, those present again affirmed the efforts of the Orthodox in Lebanon since its founding toward building a nation and establishing a state for all, without division or discrimination.