Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Patriarch John X's Speech at the Enthronement of Met Ignatius Elhoshy

This took place on Sunday, November 17, at the Antiochian Church of Saint Helen in Vaucresson, a suburb of Paris. The French original can be read here. Photos of the enthronement can be seen here.

Your Eminences and Excellencies, Reverend Fathers, dearly beloved children, I would like first of all to give thanks to God for having once more given me the occasion to receive you in this beautiful country that is France. A few years ago, we gathered around our late, venerable Patriarch Ignatius IV who  came to enthrone me as metropolitan of the Antiochian diocese in Western and Central Europe.  The ceremony took place in the Church of St Stephen, at the time given for our use by the generous hospitality of the Greek community of Paris. I will also use this occasion to ask my dear brother in Christ, Metropolitan Emmanuel, to give our love and respect to our dear brother in Christ, His Beatitude Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and I offer Your Eminence this engolpion, a symbol of my love.

Over the years that I passed in this diocese, I learned to discover the treasures of this country and I allowed myself to be challenged by the problems caused by modernity for the faithful who live here, as well as the numerous opportunities that it offers for better pastoral care and greater openness toward our fellow Orthodox and other Christians. In all humility, I would like to say that I learned a lot here, and I admit that I was not the same man when I left the diocese.

In the meantime, many things have changed. The parishes of Antiochian origin have grown in number and reached new countries. In the hope of more effective pastoral care, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch has just established, within the old diocese, four independent entities, respectively covering essentially the Anglophone, Francophone, Germanophone, and Scandinavian countries, as well as the countries bordering them. This decision should allow the pastor of each of these entities to be closer to the People of God and more able to listen to them.

Thus I come to enthrone in our own church, here in Vaucresson, Mgr Ignatius, the new bishop, reminding him of the immensity of the task that awaits him and calling all of you to greater cooperation, so that the name of Christ will be blessed by all. Be united in love, so that you may heed the pressing call of the Lord, so that you will truly be His witnesses among those around you. Your witness should first of all manifest that which Antioch has passed down to you through her heritage of saints and martyrs and it should ensure that you do not forget the suffering that she is currently experiencing. Along with your fellow Orthodox from all the jurisdictions, you must work towards an always more perfect Orthodox unity and show the world through your real, shared brotherhood the eternal message of Orthodoxy. On this occasion I would like to greet the very appreciated presence of Their Emminences, the leaders and representatives of these Churches and to assure them that we hold them in our heart.

Mgr Ignatius, you, along with your faithful and the other Orthodox, must not miss any occasion to tell our fellow Christians that we must speak together with the same voice and shed the same tears for all the afflicted of the earth. Be proud to recognize in all those who venerate Jesus Christ your brothers and members of your family.

I would like to thank the representatives of the Catholic and Protestant Churches of France for their presence and I would like to tell them that we want to be, in this land of the West, a humble leaven from that land of the East that the Lord has trodden but which is sadly being emptied of its Christians. We ask their fraternal aid to stop this migration and these abuses.

My beloved, we are here in Paris and our heart suffers for Syria. In body and spirit we are with our brothers in Syria, demanding Jesus' peace. We invite dialogue, the sole means for deliverance. Our hearts are with the apples of our eyes, the children and parents who were shelled in the schools of Damascus. We are here accompanied by our loved ones who never forget our brothers, the kidnapped bishops John and Paul, and all who have been kidnapped. Our heart also remains with Lebanon, praying that it remains the country of peace and dialogue and hoping that all will work for the good and stability of that country. The love of our East flows in our veins, for we are people who do not live apart from the motherland, for the motherland remains in us and dwells in our hearts.

I would also like to address the young people, to entreat them, like the Apostle, to " not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord... and hold fast to that good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." You are the Church's ambassadors to modernity. Help your brothers through your engagement and your example to give a good witness.

Finally, I end by saying to the new metropolitan, also in the words of the same Apostle, to be prepared to "suffer for the Gospel", to "strengthen himself in the grace of Jesus Christ", to "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness", to "preach the Word in season and out of season", "with all longsuffering and teaching" and with great respect for the holy liberty that the Lord has granted us.

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