Thursday, October 4, 2012

Communique from the Meeting of the Holy Synod

This translation is in no way official. The official Arabic can be read here.

Communique from the Holy Synod of Antioch, Meeting at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand October 2-4, 2012

The Holy Synod of Antioch began the work of its  49th regular session at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand, October 2-4, 2012. His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius addressed a word to the metropolitans present in which he stressed the importance of the Christian witness in our countries and the world and the effort to strengthen the Christian presence in them in the face of the challenges facing the children of the Church in their countries.

The fathers of the Holy Synod paused over the events that our region is witnessing and the repercussions they are having for fellow citizens of various affiliations. They supplicate God that He may return peace and tranquility, that the values of freedom, justice, and equality will reign, and that fellow citizens will enjoy a bright tomorrow and a promising future for their children. They affirmed the following points as the starting point for any approach that respects the Christian view of humanity and the Church's role in the world:

-- The importance of the Middle-Eastern Christian Presence. The Christians of the Middle East are children of this region, which is the cradle of Christianity. They have given the Catholic Church some of her most important Fathers and teachers. Their history is a testimony to their openness and engagement in public life and they have enriched Arab civilization through their scientific, intellectual, and literary efforts. Middle-Eastern Christians, the children of various Christian churches, are called to commit themselves to the issues of humanity and of their countries, with faith in the teachings of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church. The Antiochian Orthodox Church, which is rooted in the Arab East, must play a leading role in revealing the authentic face of Christianity, which serves humanity without regard to ethnicity or religion.

The fathers see the increase in emigration, especially among the youth, to the countries of the diaspora as a danger that threatens the active Christian presence in our societies. For this reason they see it necessesary to invest in endowments and to support Church institutions for growing service to the faithful in order to solidify their existence in their homelands and to ensure the bases for their remaining in the countries in which God called us to bear witness.

-- The Spirit of Peace. Middle-Eastern Christians are called to commit to working tirelessly to bring peace to their region. They are children of love and Christian meekness and their Church calls them to be faithful to this special quality. For this reason, the Church denounces the violence that is generally practiced in the Arab world-- killing, expulsion, displacement, chaos, and kidnapping... History has established that violence, wherever it comes from, is not a way of solving problems. Rather, it exacerbates divisions between people of a single country, and pushes towards more conflicts and wars.

-- The Obligation of Citizenship. By the same token, the faithful are called not to withdraw from their duties to the nation because they do not look at the world in terms of numbers and they refuse to consider themselves  a minority or for cooperation with them to happen with a minoritarian mentality. They are responsible, with their partners in the nation, for the political, cultural, and social revival of their country as part of their mission in this world. There is no assurance of the values of sound citizenship and total equality of rights and responsibilities for all citizens without effort to form just laws to which all people of the single country submit without distinction and the realization of true representation for all elements of the nation which opens the fields of service to all citizens according to their abilities.

The Antiochian Orthodox Church is determined to playing a leading role so that her children may perform their role in bearing national responsibilities. Within this context and despite the fact that the Church has not adopted any plan for an electoral law in Lebanon, she affirms the necessity of enacting an electoral law that includes true and just representation for all Lebanese.

-- Media. In a world where media have come to have a decisive role in forming public opinion, transmitting information, and shaping knowledge, the fathers of the Synod paused on the importance that should be given to this element of our society today. And so, religious media is naturally called to spread the values of knowledge, freedom, and openness to accepting the other, and to not use the various media platforms to stir up reactions and traffic in souls. However, it is also called to play a positive role in shedding light on everything that gives dignity to humankind and raises their condition.

On this basis, the Fathers condemn offenses against religious values and symbols and consider this to be a targeted attempt to sew seeds of discord between the children of these two monotheistic religions. They likewise condemn violent reactions against these offenses and see them to be incompatible with the spirits of Christianity and Islam, which both call for appealing to reason and wisdom in any action that the faithful undertake.

In closing, His Beatitude addressed his profound gratitude to their eminences, the honorable fathers who flocked from all corners of the world in order to express their unity, their love, and their solidarity in belonging to their Antiochian Eastern Orthodox Church.

1 comment:

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Lovely words, but these issues have been building for decades and the hierarchy did nothing to prepare their communities, who remained in denial themselves while their demographics cratered.

Everyone seems to have assumed they could just bob along with the current of pan-Arab nationalism. Now that it turns out pan-Arab nationalism really means Peninsular Arab nationalism, we hear the plea for organization, political engagement, staying put, don't-offend-anybody, etc.

A depressing situation. God protect His Middle East faithful.