Address of Most Rev. Cyril Salim Bustros at the Enthronement Liturgy
Cathedral of the Eparchy of Newton
August 18, 2004
Your Beatitude, Most Reverend Bishops, dear priests, deacons and subdeacons, dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
“Let your light shine”. This is the program of my new ministry and my appeal and Christ’s appeal to everyone of you. I am coming from Baalbeck, in Lebanon, the ancient “Heliopolis”, a Greek word that means “City of the sun”. There I was born, and there I served as Archbishop for sixteen years, from 1988 to 2004, after having been for twenty-two years rector of St. Paul’s Institute of Philosophy. I am a bishop of the Catholic Church. At my first interview with the press in 1988, they asked me some questions about political problems; my short answer was “I am a Doctor in theology not in politics”. And in fact, I did not interfere in political matters, and I was at the service of all men and women from all religions and all political parties. I accepted the priesthood and after that the episcopacy for the singular aim of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior of all human beings, and to unite the diversity of human beings and the diversity of nations into one body, the Body of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has reconciled in his Body all who were before enemies, as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Christ himself is our peace: He it is who has made both one, and has broken down the intervening wall of the enclosure, the enmity, in his flesh” (Eph 2, 14). So we can say with Saint Paul: “Hence there is not ‘Gentile and Jew’, ‘circumcised and uncircumcised’, ‘Barbarian and Scithyan’, ‘slave and freeman’, but Christ is all things and in all” (Col 3, 11).
Adapting this saying to the American situation, we can say: “There is no American and Arab”, but only Christ, and we, Americans and Arabs, are the One Body of Christ. The Arabs remain Arabs: they cannot deny their origin; neither can they loose their identity. They are bearers of a very rich heritage of which they are proud. But at the same time, they became Americans, and they are also proud of this new identity. I personally, am also proud to be Lebanese; but at the same time, I am happy to come to America, and to be enriched by my new American identity. We read in the letter to the Hebrews: “Here we have no permanent city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb 13, 14). This city that is to come is the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom of God is to come, but it is already here, though in a mystical way: He is in us! We are all citizens of the one Kingdom of God. In Christ we have become, all who were baptized, a new creature. We are all in pilgrimage on this earth, and our mission is to make the whole humanity a new creation in Christ Jesus by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has appointed me Eparch of Newton upon my election by our Greek Catholic Melkite Synod. I accepted with joy and love this nomination. When I obtained my Doctorate in Theology in 1976 from the English Department of the University of Louvain in Belgium, after having followed for two years all the courses in English with many Americans who were following the same courses as I, I did not know at that time that God was preparing me to be one day a Bishop in the United States of America. And when I came after obtaining my doctorate in 1976 to visit the late Most Reverend Joseph Tawil and spend one month with him in Boston, I never imagined that I shall be after twenty-eight years his successor as Eparch of Newton.
My dear co-workers, Most Reverend Nicholas Samra and all priests and deacons and subdeacons in the Eparchy; my dear sisters and brothers: I am coming to you to serve you. And the best food I can offer to you in my service is my love, which I hope shall be the reflection of the Love of God the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and the link of unity between all the members of our dear Eparchy. In this love, we are called by God to collaborate for the good of the Church in general and for the prosperity of our Melkite Church in particular. I know that there are many problems that need to be solved. I cannot solve them alone, or immediately, but with you and with love, we can solve the most serious problems. I do not fear to face serious problems. I am used to that, in my long ministry in Baalbeck. And I can say with Saint John the Evangelist: Where there is love, there is no fear.
Dear Brothers, Most Reverend bishops of the other churches, I thank you very much for coming to participate with us in this Liturgy. We are all ministers of the One, Holy Catholic Orthodox and Apostolic Church. And this Church, as Pope John Paul II has said many times, has to breathe with two lungs: East and West. I know what this saying means, having been a member of many ecumenical commissions in the Middle East, and General Reporter of the Synod of Bishops in its special Assembly for Lebanon. And I am still a member of the Commission of Dialogue between the Catholic church and the Assyrian Church of the East.
I thank Most Reverend Bishop John Adel Elya for the service he has done during his ministry as Eparch of Newton. He is now free of this heavy responsibility, and he can have the rest, he has merited. But he remains my dear friend and the dear friend of all of you. And to my other friend, Most Reverend Bishop Nicholas Samra, I say: we will work together in a very cordial collaboration, and be a sign of the unity for the Church.
I thank His Beatitude our Patriarch Gregorios the III, for presiding over this Liturgy. And we shall remain in contact with him and with all the bishops of our Greek Catholic Melkite Synod, so that our Melkite Church can also breathe with two lungs: the one in the Middle East and the one spread all over the world.
May the Love of God the Father and the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.