Synod Elects Patriarch

New Melkite Patriarch

Gregorios the Third

An exceptional Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church was held at the Patriarchal Residence, Rabweh, Lebanon starting on Wednesday, November 22, 2000. It was convened and presided by the Patriarchal Administrator, Archbishop John Haddad of Tyre. The Synod was attended by the following Hierarchs who had come from the Middle East, the Americas and Australia:

Elias Zoghby (Emeritus of Baalbek)

Gregory Haddad (Emeritus of Beirut)

Saba Youakim (Emeritus of Amman, Jordan)

Paul Antaki (Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt and Sudan)

Maximos Salloum (Emeritus of Haifa & Galilee)

Michel Hakim (Emeritus of Canada)

François Abou-Mokh (Emeritus Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus)

John Mansour (Patriarchal Vicar Auxiliary in Lebanon)

Michel Yatim (Emeritus of Latakieh)

Lutfy Laham (Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem)

Boulos Borkhoch (Houran and the Arab Mountain)

Andre Haddad (Zahleh, Fourzol and the Beqaa)

John Adel Elya (the United States of America)

Ibrahim Nehmeh (Homs, Hama and Yabroud)

George Riachi (Tripoli, Lebanon)

Georges Kouaiter (Saida and Deir-el-Kamar)

Cyril Salim Bostros (Baalbek)

Antoine Hayek (Paneas and Gedeidet Marjeyooun)

Pierre Mouallem, Haifa, Nazareth and Galilee)

George El-Murr (Amman, Jordan)

Isidore Battikhah (Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus)

Jean Janbart (Aleppo)

Fares Macarone, Brazil

George Kahale Zuhairaty (Venezuela & Argentina)

Issam Darwich (Australia)

Sleiman Hajjar (Canada)

Joseph Kallas (Beirut & Gebeil)

Nocola Sawwaf, Lataquieh

After accepting the resignation of His Beatitude Maximos Hakim V, which he had presented to the Synod due to his serious and ongoing illness, the Synod decided to call for an “elective Synod” at 10:00 AM, on Monday, November 27.

At the elective Synod Archbishop Loufit Laham was chosen as the new Patriarch of the Melkite Catholic Church. The Patriarch has chosen the name Gregorios III.

Patriarch Gregorios III was born in 1933 in Daraya, Syria (near Damascus). He became a monk and received his baccalaureate degree in Lebanon before going to Rome. He was ordained in 1959. In 1961 he was granted a PhD in Oriental Theology from the Oriental Institute in Rome. He has been a bishop since 1981. Patriarch Gregorios III speaks Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, and Latin. His many publications include Al-Wahadat Quarterly (1962-1981); four volumes of liturgical prayers in Arabic; Introduction to Spiritual Life in the Byzantine Rite (in Arabic, 1990); and The Voice of the Shepherd (Arabic sermons).

While an archbishop, Patriarch Gregorios wrote: “The greatest ecumenical initiative of our Church is the one taken in 1996 to unify the two branches, Catholic and Orthodox, of the Patriarchate of Antioch.” He went on to call upon “the Heads of the Churches, to think seriously of launching a prophetic, ecumenical initiative on the occasion of the Great Jubilee.”

Catholic World News reports that Gregorios III is “fully expected to obtain the prompt recognition of Pope John Paul II, and to extend the full communion between the Melkite Church and the Holy See.”

(Read more about the exceptional Synod)