The day after the Holy Father’s visit to Lebanon, which was a constantly reiterated call for peace – “‘My peace I give unto you’” was Benedict XVI’s constant theme – His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem tenaciously pursued his efforts and appeals for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, so opening the path to reconciliation.
Following his 27 August letter For Syria, reconciliation is the only lifeline, addressed to the Pope, cardinals, episcopal conferences, rulers and heads of state and all persons of good will, on Thursday 20 September Gregorios III received representatives of Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece and Poland, as well as a representative of Canada, in the patriarchal residence of Rabweh (Lebanon). The conversation and discussions focused on assessing the situation on the ground and means of clearing the path to reconciliation “… that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” (John 11:52).
The Patriarch recalled the very terms of his For Syria, reconciliation is the only lifeline, saying: “We believe the role of the Church in Syria to be the sacred ministry of working for reconciliation. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!’ We believe that this ministry will be the warranty for Christians facing the gloomy future that dawns over Syria … because the Church’s role is to be the herald and architect of reconciliation at every level.”
Gregorios III went on to thank the President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Sleiman for all his efforts to ensure the genuine success of the Holy Father’s visit in both a spiritual and material sense. The Melkite Patriarch finally expressed a wish for all relevant texts, speeches and sermons that represent a genuine, historic pact for civilizational and interfaith dialogue, to be gathered into a single document and circulated in Arab countries via embassies and delegations.