Peace, living together and Christian presence in the Middle East

Gregorios III: Peace, living together and Christian presence in the Middle East

Continuing his European round-trip of episcopal conferences and European political institutions, H. B. Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem began his talks in Great Britain by a meeting with H. G. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, H. G. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and with a representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Afterwards, he gave a talk at Heythrop College, University of London. Among those present (c. 60 persons) Ukrainian and Coptic Orthodox bishops, university teachers, monks and nuns and lay-persons. Mr Anthony O’Mahony of Heythrop College introduced His Beatitude. After the talk, the Principal of the College, Michael Holman SJ invited the Patriarch to lunch. For all these meetings, the Patriarch was accompanied by Rev. Dr Shafiq Abouzayd, priest of the Melkite parish in London and Ms Valerie Chamberlain, liaison officer for the trip to the U.K.

On Sunday, 11 March, (the third Sunday in Lent) His Beatitude celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the parish church of St Barnabas, Pimlico meeting parishioners. In the afternoon, His Beatitude met the Lebanese ambassador to Britain, H. E. Inaam Osseiran at a meal offered by Father Shafiq and members of the parish council.

As in Berlin on 5 and 6 March and in Paris on 7 and 8 March 2012, Gregorios III emphasised the relationship between peace, living together and Christian presence in the Middle East, which is a reservoir of Christians and a cultural reservoir of the region. This region, and Syria especially, needs to regain its tranquillity, thanks to a dialogue among all the parties concerned. He asked European leaders and Church leaders to call for a cease-fire and dialogue and reconciliation.

V. C.