Patriarch Gregorios III
The Patriarchal Head of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church
Patriarch of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of the Holy Apostles
By the grace of God, at the Electoral Synod of the Patriarchal Melkite Greek Catholic Church held at Rabweh, Lebanon and presided by the Patriarchal Administrator the Most Reverend John Mansour on November 27-29, 2000, the Most Reverend Archbishop Lutfy Laham, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem was elected as the new Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. The new Patriarch took a new name, as is the custom. He chose the name of Gregory III, following the famous Patriarch Gregory II Youssef, the great champion of Eastern traditions and of the rights of Patriarchs in the First Vatican Council (1870).
Patriarch Gregorios III was born in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria, in 1933. The village of Daraya is known traditionally to be the place of the conversion of St. Paul on his way to Damascus. His Beatitude entered the Seminary of the Holy Savior of the Basilian Salvatorian Fathers in the Shoof, Lebanon in 1944. He took his simple religious vows in the Basilian Salvatorian Order in 1949 and his solemn religious vows in 1954. He received his religious and philosophy education at the Holy Savior Seminary, Joun, Lebanon. He continued his Theological studies in Rome where he was ordained priest in 1959. He obtained the Doctorate degree in Oriental Theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. He was superior of the Holy Savior Major Seminary in 1961-64.
In 1962, His Beatitude founded the Magazine “Al-Wahdah – Unity in Faith,” the first ecumenical magazine to be published in the Arabic language. He founded, in the same year, the “Center for Young Girls” in several Lebanese villages in East Sidon area. In 1966, he founded together with the Most Reverend George Kwaiter, now Archbishop of Saida and Deir-el-Kamar, and the Right Reverend Salim Ghazal, now Superior General of the Basilian Salvatorian Order, the Providence Home, at Salhiyeh, near Saida, Lebanon, as an orphanage and a trade school for boys.
In 1974, he was appointed Administrator of the Patriarchal Vicariate of Jerusalem. In 1976, in Jerusalem, he founded the “Student Fund” to help needy students and in 1978 the Family Assistance Fund to help needy families in the troubled areas of his Diocese. In 1967, he founded at the Patriarchate the Oriental Library to promulgate the knowledge of Eastern traditions. He initiated many social projects such as repairing churches, opening clinics and building popular housing, including a guest house for pilgrims at the Patriarchal Center in Jerusalem.
In 1981, he was ordained Archbishop and continued his work as Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem as successor to Archbishop Hilarion Cappucci. He is well known throughout the Middle East and Europe as an Ecumenist and a Theologian.
Appointed by Patriarch Maximos V Hakim as president of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission, he edited “the Anthologion,” the prayer book of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in four volumes, and “the Book of the Liturgies,” a complete and updated compendium of the Divine Liturgy. As Secretary of the Ecumenical Commission of the Melkite Patriarchate, he has been very active in the Dialogue between the two Sister Churches, the Melkite Greek Catholic and the Greek (Antiochian) Orthodox Churches. He is also a member of the League of the Universities and institutes of Religious Studies in the Middle East.
The installation of the New Patriarch took place at 11:30 AM, Wednesday, November 29, immediately after his election by 30 Bishops assembled in a special Synod for that purpose. Present at the installation was His Beatitude Maximos V Hakim who had resigned for reasons of health at 92 years of age. Many religious and political personalities rushed to Rabweh to attend the Installation, as soon as the good news was caught and spread by the media.
The new Patriarch is an author of many books among which are the following: (all in Arabic except #4)
- “Introduction to the Liturgical Services and their symbols in the Eastern Church”
- “The Voice of the Shepherd – Eastern Liturgical Spirituality”.
- “Life of Archbishop Germanos Adam”.
- Translation of “History of the Melkite Church” In English and in German.
- The Melkite Greek Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council
Melkite Patriarchs Since 1709
2000 – Date Gregorios III
1967 – 2000 Maximos V Hakim
1947 – 1967 Maximos IV Saïgh Strong voice at Vatican II for the Eastern Churches. Viewed the Melkites as a bridge between Orthodoxy and Rome.
1925 – 1947 Cyrille IX Moghabghab
1919 – 1925 Dimitrios I Cadi
1902 – 1916 Cyrille Vl l l Geha
1898 – 1902 Pierre IV Géraigiry
1864 – 1897 Grégoire II Youssef-Sayour Opened patriarchal colleges of Beirut and Damascus, founded Seminary of St. Anne of Jerusalem. A voice for strengthened union at Vatican I and the Eucharistic Congress of Jerusalem. Assisted with the papal encyclical Oriental Dignit.
1856 – 1864 Clément Bahous
1833 – 1855 Maximos lIl Mazloum Worked on behalf of the Christians of Egypt., building churches, and providing a bishop. Obtained complete independence from the Turkish Sultan. Drafted the canonical legislation for the Melkite Church.
1816 – 1833 Ignace V Cattan
1813 – 1813 Athanase V Matar
1813 – 1815 Macaire IV Tawil
1812 – 1812 Ignace IV Sarrouf
1796 – 1812 Agapios II Matar Founding of the seminary in Ain Traz.
1794 – 1796 Cyrille Vll Siage
1788 – 1794 Athanase IV Jawhar
1761 – 1788 Théodose V Dahan
1760 – 1761 Maximos II Hakim
1759 – 1760 AthanaseIV Jawhar
1724 – 1759 Cyrille Vl Thanas Completed the reunification of the Melkites with Rome. With the confirmation of the Antiochean Othodox Patriarch Sylvester by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyrille fees Damascus and takes refuge in Lebanon.
1724 – Athanasius III On the death of Patriarch Athanasius one branch of the patriarchate of Antioch aligned itself with Byzantium (Antiochean Orthodox) while the other branch (Melkite Catholic) formalized relations with Rome.
1709 – Patriarch Cyril V Formally recognizes the authority of the Pope.