Letter to His Holiness from the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchy in Syria

19 November 2008

To His Holiness
Pope Benedict XVI
Vatican City

Most Holy Father,

Upon the opening of its work, the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, meeting in Aleppo from 19 to 21 November 2008, at the see of the Armenian Catholic Archbishopric, under my presidency and in the presence of Monsignor Andrzej Józwowicz, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Damascus, requests Your Holiness’ Apostolic Blessing.

In our prayers, which accompanied the beginning of our work, as well as in the different opening speeches of our meeting, we recalled with gratitude your concern for Christian communities in the East and your support for the cause of peace in the Middle East.

In fact, you never let slip an opportunity to help with the furthering of dialogue between Christians and Muslims and with the protection of the right of Christian minorities, whether in Iraq, the Holy Land or elsewhere to live in peace and security in their countries. Your adoption of the appeal launched by the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs during the recent assembly of the Episcopal Synod in Rome and your speech at the first Catholic-Muslim Forum are typically genuine examples of your commitment to promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world.

We would also like to thank you for your latest Encyclical Spe Salvi, which invigorated us with its theological depth and spiritual warmth. Similarly, your Pauline catecheses for the Jubilee of the Apostle to the Gentiles brought spiritual food to us and to our faithful. We would also like to take the opportunity now to express to you in advance our thanks for the Pontifical Delegate who will represent Your Holiness at the close of the Pauline Year in Damascus, city of Saint Paul’s baptism.

Most Holy Father, please strengthen us in faith, after the example of Peter, whom Christ chose as pastor of his Church and bless our work, which is designed to improve our catechesis programmes and increase our solidarity with regard to the Iraqi refugees in Syria, as well as to further Pauline thought and spirituality in this jubilee year.

Most Holy Father, we beg you to accept once more the expression of our religious and filial devotion in Christ.

Gregorios III, Patriarch

President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchy in Syria