Balamand, Lebanon, March 3, 2022
The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch gathered in Balamand yesterday under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch John X.
The Patriarch was invited last month to attend a meeting of the primates of the four ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, and Jerusalem, planned by Constantinople and Alexandria to condemn the Russian Church’s creation of an African Exarchate on the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
The Antiochian Patriarchate announced that it would be the Synod that would decide how to respond to the invitation, and in its session yesterday, it once again called for a return to conciliarity, with the participation of all Local Churches:
They reiterated the position of the Patriarchate of Antioch stressing the necessity to return to the principle of consensus and unanimity of all Orthodox Churches, those recognized by the family of Local Churches, in what relates to the joint Orthodox work and the efforts to find solutions to controversial issues challenging the Orthodox world. Consensus and unanimity guarantee the unity of the Orthodox Church.
Concerning the Russian invasion into Ukraine, the Synod states:
The Synodal Fathers follow with deep pain and great sorrow the distressful escalation in Ukraine and raised their fervent prayers for peace in Ukraine and the entire world, and that the Almighty God inspires the decision-makers to give priority to the logic of peace and to adopt the language of dialogue to spare further destruction as well as human causalities and material losses incurred by all parties.
During this difficult time for the Ukrainian people, the Fathers express their sympathy to the shepherds of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church presided by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. The Fathers hope that the spiritual and historical ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, who had emerged from the same baptismal font, would contribute to resolving the conflict, achieving reconciliation, and consolidating peace.
And concerning the holy Fast that is quickly approaching, the hierarchs state:
On the threshold of the Holy and Great Lent, the Synodal fathers urge the faithful to adhere to the word of God, intensify their prayers for peace from above. They remind their children, in the homeland and oversees, of the importance that the struggle in fasting be accompanied with caring for the destitute little brethren of Jesus, given that in the Church we do not fast only to abstain from food, but rather to provide the poor with the spared price of the food that we abstain from.
The Synod also addressed the issue of Metropolitan Boulos (Paul) of Aleppo and Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Church, who were abducted nine years ago. The Synod condemns the international silence over the issue and calls for the Metropolitans’ immediate release.
Finally, they call upon the Lebanese government to provide basic living requirements for its citizens, and for the people to vote wisely in the upcoming parliamentary elections; and for the international community to lift sanctions against Syria, and for a political solution to be found “taking into consideration the aspirations of the Syrian people, to achieve national reconciliation and preserve the unity of the Syrian State.”