News from the Patriarchate

Black and White photograph of the Melkite Patriarch Gregorios seated

Activities of His Beatitude

News Briefs from the Patriarchate

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Tercentennial Celebrations at the Monastery of Holy Saviour, Lebanon And Feast of the Transfiguration

5-6 August, 2011

On 5 August, the eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration, a tercentennial celebration was held under the auspices of the President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Sleiman, when H. B. Patriarch Gregorios III commemorated the founding of the Holy Saviour Monastery, Lebanon. There attended some fifteen bishops, representing different Christian Churches, the Superior General of the Basilian Salvatorian Order, Jean Faraj, several shayks, representing Druze, Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim communities, a number of ministerial representatives and parliamentary deputies and about fifteen hundred citizens of all religious communities.

After the celebration, a cedar tree was planted in the alley at the entrance to the monastery, with a commemorative plaque to mark the event.

The following day, 6 August, Feast of the Transfiguration, H. B. Patriarch Gregorios III celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and after a homily pronounced by Archim. Jean Faraj, His Beatitude also preached a sermon.

A large crowd of people from different towns and villages of Lebanon and Syria attended the festal service.

Visit of H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III to Slovakia

May 27-30, 2011

As Spiritual Protector of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III was invited to Bratislava, Slovakia (27-30 May 2011.)

On 27 May he was welcomed by the Mayor of Bratislava, Dr. Milan Ftáčnik. He then gave a talk: the Greek Catholic Church and Peace. The future is meeting, trusting and building bridges in a divided world.

At 5: 30p.m. the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Peter Rusnák of the Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Bratislava, with a Vigil for postulants to the Order of St. Lazarus. His Beatitude presided from the throne.

On 28 May, at 5p.m. the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Martin by His Beatitude, together with Bishop Peter Rusnák, Bishop Milan Chautur of Košice and some twenty priests, during which the Ceremonial Investiture of the Order took place for Knights and Dames of the recently inaugurated Grand Bailiwick of Slovakia headed by Chev. Ing. Zdenek Tomčík, the Grand Priory of Hungary, the Grand Priory of Germany, and the Grand Bailiwick of the Czech Republic.

This was followed by a Gala Dinner in the Carlton Hotel.

On Sunday, 29 May, His Beatitude baptized the child Stella Török, daughter of the Chancellor for the Slovak Jurisdiction, Chev. Norbert Török.

At 10: 30a.m., His Beatitude celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, with its Bishop Peter Rusnák concelebrating.

On 30 May, His Beatitude left Slovakia for Lebanon.

V. C.

Inauguration of the Liqaa International Centre for Dialogue

>(in Rabweh, Lebanon at 5p.m. on Tuesday 10 May 2011)

On Tuesday, 10 May 2011, in Rabweh (Lebanon), Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, inaugurated “in the name of Christ the Saviour, risen from the dead,” the Liqaa International Centre for Dialogue, in the presence of the President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Sleiman and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Muhammad As-Salemi, Minister of the Awqaf and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.

Many distinguished figures, both civil and religious, accepted the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch’s invitation. Present were the Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic, Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Qabbani, Sheikh Akl of the Unitarian Druze community, the Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, representatives of the other Catholic Patriarchs of Lebanon, Pastor Selim Sahyouni, President of the Supreme Council of Evangelical Churches in Lebanon and Syria, as well as many Melkite Greek Catholic, Maronite and Orthodox bishops, not to mention the superiors general and mothers general of the main Lebanese religious orders.

Also present were Ministers Michel Pharaon, Tarek Mitri, Selim Wardeh and Hassan Mneimneh, as well as Members of Parliament Hagop Pakradounian, Michel Moussa, Ghassan Moukheiber and Marwan Fares, military leaders, heads of university and leading representatives of the judiciary.

The international community was very well represented by some 29 Western and Arab ambassadors and the Sultanate of Oman by a delegation led by the Secretary-General of the Sultan Qaboos Centre for Islamic Culture, Mr. Habib Bin Mohammed Al-Riyami.

The ceremony was introduced and presented by Father Michel Sabee. The Apostolic Nuncio read a letter from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Then Mr. Habib Bin Muhammad Al-Riyami gave a speech for the occasion, and H. B. Gregorios III gave a speech that can be found on the Patriarchate’s website (in English, French and Arabic.)

At the end of the ceremony, the Patriarch, the President and the Omani Minister unveiled the commemorative plaque of the event, then together cut the ribbon to the entrance to the Centre’s main hall, where a cocktail was offered to all the attendees.

Patriarch Gregorios III visits Bkerkeh to congratulate Maronite Patriarch Beshara

On 16 March, 2011, Patriarch Gregorios III of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church led a delegation of several bishops, with other clergy and lay-people, on a visit to Bkerkeh (Lebanon) to congratulate newly elected Patriarch Beshara Boutros (al Rai) of the Maronite Church.

Patriarch Gregorios III brought greetings and congratulations from the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of which he is father and head, and from the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria of which he is president, from the Council of Eastern Catholic Patriarchs, from the Assembly for Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon (APECL) and from the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC.)

Commenting on the meaning of the name of the new Patriarch, which means Annunciation in Arabic, His Beatitude expressed the wish that his tenure would be “good news” for the Christian world. He assured him that he and his Church would continue to enjoy communion in love with the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and that in their prayers all Syria’s Christians were all wishing the new Maronite Patriarch many years of fruitful service.

Patriarch Beshara himself expressed the wish to pay a visit to Syria this year for religious purposes and to further friendship between Lebanese and Syrian faithful.

Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches visits Melkite Patriarch’s Lebanese Residence

On 6 March, 2011, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, together with the Congregation’s Undersecretary, Mgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, and in company with the Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon, Bishop Gabriele Caccia and his Adjutor, visited Patriarch Gregorios III of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church at the patriarchal summer residence of Ain Traz. Cardinal Sandri and the other visiting clergy admired the restored residence, which, among its other functions, is very well adapted for meetings of the Melkite Synod of Bishops. Later this year, the Ain Traz residence will be celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of its foundation.

V. C.

Patriarch Gregorios III attends Maronite Patriarch’s Diamond Jubilee of Priesthood

On Saturday, 05 March 2011, Patriarch Gregorios III, in company with the Syrian Catholic and Armenian Catholic Patriarchs, attended the Jubilee and farewell celebration of the Maronite Divine Liturgy in Bkerkeh, Lebanon, for Maronite Patriarch Emeritus, Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, who, sixty years after his ordination as priest, and almost fifty as bishop and twenty-five as Patriarch, has just retired from his official functions at the age of ninety.

Also attending were the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon, Bishop Gabriele Caccia, presenting a gift from the Pope, and many bishops from the Maronite and other Catholic Churches, the Orthodox Churches and representatives of Protestant communions. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Designate Najib Mikati were also present, together with other political figures and officials.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter of 26 February 2011, accepting Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros’ resignation “made freely and generously, expressing great humility and profound detachment,” wrote that he was “sure that [the Cardinal Patriarch] would always accompany the way of the Maronite Church, through prayer, wise counsel and sacrifices.”

The Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church will begin meetings to elect a new leader on 9 March. The process, including several days of spiritual retreat, may take up to fifteen days.

V. C.