The Patriarchate of Antioch's website seems to have lapsed or something, and so this is taken from Carol Saba's French translation here. Even if you can't read French, take a look at all the photos there!
Historic Visit of Russian president Dmitri Medvedev to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus
During the course of his official visit to Syria, on Tuesday May 11 2010, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev visited the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, His Beatitude Ignatius IV, at the seat of the patriarchate in Damascus. The Russian president was accompanied by Mansur Azzam, minister for presidential affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as the Russian ambassador to Syria, Sergei Kirbichenko.
Upon his arrival at the patriarchal see, the Russian president was greeted by Patriarch Ignatius IV, accompanied by the patriarchal vicar bishops, Luka (Khouri), Moussa (Khouri), and Ghattas (Hazim), as well as Archimandrites Ibrahim (His Beatitude’s personal secretary) and Alexander (permanent representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch).
The Russian president and His Beatitude evoked the historically close relations that have existed between the Churches of Russia and Antioch for generations and the reciprocal cooperation that has always characterized these relations.
Patriarch Ignatius IV greeted the Russian president saying:
“Welcome your excellence mister president to the seat of the Patriarchate of Antioch, which is tied to Russia by ancient relations full of love and benevolent attention from both sides. We have always been together for a very long time and in all circumstances, without exception. I am personally proud to have myself been the link between our Churches and our two peoples. One cannot help but be proud of the good mark that you have left and that you continue to leave in this country and this region and I do not exaggerate when I say that in our churches many things and many signs show your presence among us. During the recent Paschal season that has just ended, we did not cease saying ‘Christ is risen’, knowing that millions of people, you being the first of them, you were repeating it along with us. The relationship that exists between our Church and your holy Church is a relationship that is at the same time ecclesial and personal. We have known at least three primates of your Church and now we know our friend His Holiness Patriach Kyril, whom we have known for a number of years.
It is important for us, mister president, to thank you for your presence among us as your presence is not important only for our Church but also for the whole of our country. For a while now you have described the tasks and initiatives that you undergo as being done for the sake of peace. And your visit today shows that you continue to seek peace, which is what you are doing here in Syria. When we speak of peace, we wish it for this country and for all countries we do not say it just for ourselves. We pray to our Lord that He will help you in this path and that you will continue to speak and meditate on peace. For us, God is the creator of all human beings. It is for this reason that when we pray for peace, we pray for it for the whole world. I will not mention all the wars in which you have intervened. Usually we mention the knights of that region but we must also mention your heroism and also the fact that Moscow has been the graveyard of all those who wanted to occupy it.
Now our President Bashar, whom we love very much, represents the spirit that we express here to you today. We do not feel like strangers with him nor within this country. We also think that when two or three people are gathered together, as the Gospel says, the Spirit is present with them. For this reason we now pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and that He will make both of you into leaders for peace on this earth. We thank you very much."
The Russian president responded to the Patriarch’s address saying:
"Your Beatitude, I am very happy to respond to your Paschal address “Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!” I also wish to greet you on the occasion of the feast of Our Lord’s Ascension. The relationship that exists between our sister Churches is ancient and special and has its own traditions that go back far in history. This relationship began to evolve in the 17th Century and was very active in the following centuries. This relationship was strengthened over the course of the 20th Century, particularly when fascist Germany attacked Russia—at the time the Soviet Union—and we remember the fraternal aid that your Church of Antioch provided to the Soviet people at that time.
I have the pleasure of transmitting to you the most amiable greetings from the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kyril. I think that the plans for relationships, contacts, meetings, and visits between the leaders of the Orthodox Churches of Antioch and Russia exist and I do not want to intervene into matters that concern the two Churches. But I would like to bring attention to the development of relations between Syria and Russia, which is exemplary. I would also like to point out that that the discussions with President Asad yesterday and today will elevate these relations to a new level. We know that in Syria there exists a peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. I would like to say that in Russia there also exists the same situation because almost ten percent of our population is Muslims who coexist with Christians and other religions. The ongoing dialogue between the different religions in our country is a good example for others.
Your Beatitude, we know that you have visited Russia many times and that you have known several patriarchs of Moscow and we very much appreciate this precious relationship that exists between us. From the bottom of my heart I wish to congratulate you on your 90th birthday that you recently celebrated and on this occasion and in recognition of the contribution you have made to the strengthening of relations between Russia and Syria and to the development of relations between our Churches, I award to you the Medal of Russian Friendship. Thank you."
Then the proclamation of the granting of the award to Patriarch Ignatius was read by the president of Russia:
"By order of the president of the Russian Federation, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and all the Orient for the Greek Orthodox, residing in Damascus in the Syrian Arab Republic, is awarded the Medal of Friendship in recognition of his essential contribution to the strengthening of Russian-Syrian relations and to the maintenance and strengthening of friendship between the peoples."
After this exchange, the two delegations went to the cathedral of the patriarchal see where the president and the delegation accompanying him took a guided tour explaining the history and the foundation of the church. At the end of the visit, presents were exchanged and Patriarch Ignatius IV accompanied his guest to the gates of the patriarchate wishing him a good continuation of his journey and a safe return to his country.
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By the way do you know whether the Patriarch and the Patriarchal Vicar Bishop Ghattas Hazim are relatives?ReplyDelete
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