Skip to Navigation

Joint Statement on the Second Anniversary of the Kidnapping of Archbishops Paul and John

Damascus - April 22, 2015

A JOINT STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE TWO PATRIARCHATES OF ANTIOCHAND ALL THE EAST: THE ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND THE SYRIAC ORTHODOX CHURCH
On the Second Anniversary of the Kidnapping of the Two Metropolitans of Aleppo: His Eminence Paul (Yazigi) and His Eminence John (Abraham) on April 22, 2013

The Declaration of the Truth in the Iniquitous Trial

“It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial”
(Acts 23:6)

Our bishops, Paul and John, are on trial; they were once put on trial at the beginning of the Christian kerygma, and now they are put on trial once again, in the same geographical spot, although bearing different names. It is a unique trial, not only in the East, but also in our contemporary world. The convoluted nature of their trial does not strike the terrestrials only, but the celestials also, since it is a struggle, where the Great Judge will prevail, for He has the final ruling in this case, the case of the True Man and of the True God.

Maybe this trial is unequal; most probably, the detainees are not able to plead their case. However, here is their statement, written by their own spirits, by their lives, by their constant witness, that rebounds in the wilderness of this world:

O brethren of the Word, our children of Aleppo, in you and among you we have planted the seeds of the word of truth, witness and service. Behold, the plant is growing! We see how it grows in you, and we feel proud by its fruits. We are astounded by your perseverance, which strengthens our perseverance. We exalt in your steadfastness, which sustains our steadfastness. We esteem your patience, which recompenses our patience. Why not? You are our “glory” and “pride" (1 Tess. 2:19; 20) in this trial of preaching.

O brethren of Faith, we are put on trial for what we believe in, preach of, and minister to, by hand, heart and conscience. We live today on earth, so that we may live hereafter in the Heavenly Kingdom; man has the right to believe in the True God and to faithfully minister to “his neighbor as to himself.” Our belief in the true man leads us to minister to him wherever we are settled, and we are still where we have settled today. We will not deviate one iota from this determination, since it deserves from us every sacrifice in defense of human dignity, when he is oppressed and dehumanized by the contemporary human market, object of despise and wicked speculation and commerce. Now, the sting of dehumanization is broken in this trial of dignity.

O brethren of Hope, be not oblivious to the fact that we are on trial “for our hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). St. Paul attested once, and we declare it aloud: they want to eradicate the eternal at the expense of the perishable! However, they do not know that the Lord of heaven and earth, Who created them both, also provided that we may traverse the distance separating the two in the spirit of faith, and may attain heaven with the God-given hope that He will fulfil His promise to us. The present life is transient, whereas the future one is eternal. We all look forward in great expectation, that you will remain steadfast in this hope in the face of death, which crouches close to destroy your bodies and souls. However, our hope in the resurrection of Christ has broken the sting of death in this trial of endurance.

O brethren of Love, it is undeniable that the only proper attitude to confront such a trial is to face it with the truth that belongs to our identity and our faith. Indeed, we cannot afford to betray the love of Christ towards us, and observe how hearts and consciences grow dim to the degree of conceding to the pursuit of the path of the passions and all the odious forms of selfishness: hate, immorality, infidelity, treachery, murder, intimidation, kidnapping and exploitation, etc. When we see you strong and consistent, brethren, our hearts rejoice with the sight of your love among the wreckage of fallen humanity, whose self-centeredness has truly reached the gates of Hades. By your love, you conquer everything, and by it, you overcome all forms of death, so that you may enter into the Kingdom of the God of Love. Amongst devastation, death and fatality, the edifice of your love rises higher and higher as a final judgment in the trial of conscience.

O brethren of blood, you who have been judged or will be judged, some of you have received the favorable judgment of God to be a martyr or a confessor, and some of you are living the witness of unsurpassed hope, in silence or under threat, in dishonor or in distress. However, by your perseverance you muzzled those who laid a wager for your betrayal, apostasy, and feebleness when facing weakness, enticement, or threat. Your blood, whether still pulsating or shed, is a balm to your families and to your brethren, and a seal of victory in the trial of immortality.

O brethren of truth, let them be turned back for a reward of their shame those who declared victory proclaiming an apparent truth, but, in reality, vain in its essence. With the eyes of the heart, we observe them, and ponder what they publish and do, as well as what they hide intentionally. No truth will supersede the right of God and the right of man, regardless of their proliferated sins. This is the cry of Saint John in all of us: “He that loves not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 Jn 3:14-15). We will not plea-bargain when falsely accused, and we will not yield to anyone but the Truth. We proclaim it with you, at the heart of your suffering, through your struggle, steadfastness, and courage. Thus, you have disclosed their evident guile in the trial of the truth.

O brethren in citizenship, your wound is ours, your pain is ours, your tears are ours, and your life is ours too. Our hands are extended to you, and our hearts have room for all of you. Let us shake hands, talk to each other, have peace, reconcile with one another, and build a mutual understanding, cooperation, and integration. The solution is not achieved by violence, in its multiform types, but through the multiple forms of dialogue. The real threat comes when man comes to extinction and civilization perishes if this trial is prolonged endlessly. With you, we raise the flag of fellowship in the trial of unity.

O brethren of same destiny, our East, we are the sand of its deserts, the soil of its camps, the rocks of its mountains, the water of its rivers, the roots of its trees. If they vanish, life will no longer exist, and it will have no meaning. Our East has become an open arena for all evils. The bargain of this trial is to demolish life in its cradle, shatter the radiation of its civilizations, remove the fingerprints of its historical patrimony, displace its people out of their history, and disfigure the identity of God in its religions. Our victory of truth on earth is derived from heaven, but not by calling upon God in order to exploit Him, for the pleasure of our passions, of which heaven is completely innocent! We are aware that we are consecrated to remain in the East, to which we belong, of which we are, in which we bear witness to our faith, from which our kerygma starts out, and on which we build the edifice of our humanity. The one God was not for us a subject of dispute, or a reason for fighting, or a cause of division. We learned to address Him as “Our Father” (Mt 6:9), so we are all “brethren.” We are able to speak to everyone in truth and love, and “to lay down our lives for them” (1 Jn 3:16); we are also able to petition them, since we share a common destiny, either we all hold tight to it together, or we all lose it! No believer or nonbeliever, whoever he is, whether from the East or outside it, may bear a false witness, with his silence, or neutrality, or fear for himself, or carelessness or blindness to what is going on here. With you, we raise the banner of brotherhood, with which we confound the false witnesses in the trial of man and religion.

O brethren in humanity, our cause has become greater than one that belongs only to a definite group or nation, and wider than one that belongs only to a specific region. Our ordeal has a sole object: preserving humanity in the modern world, which is being exploited, distorted, smashed, enslaved, put at the service of different interests. We are thankful for all those who are aware of these perils and are striving to contain them, resolve them and prevent them. We will not turn to be the title of a cause to which we ask to be resolved and decrypt its mystery. We are not like this, since you are our cause! We are vigilant, from our dwelling place, over the consciences of those who willingly continue to eradicate our cause: the cause of the true man and the true God. Is it not plausible for roles to be interchanged, so that the sentenced might become a judge, even if he is in a cell, and the judge to become sentenced, even though he is sitting on the judgment seat?

O our Brother in completeness, He Who was incarnate for us, carried our nature, endured an unjust sentence, ascended the Cross, went to Hades and then arose to heaven, taught us that we are your “brethren,” unworthy though we be, and that “your Father is our Father and your God is our God" (Jn 20:17). Our peace and joy in you have reached to a level whose height and depth we are unable to attain in our spiritual life, and whose length and width we are unable to measure in our material life! It is a joy and a peace, which are according to measure of the Giver: “My Peace I leave with you, My joy I give unto you… no man takes from you.” (Jn 14:27; 16:22). You have sentenced us to have the joy and peace that are Yours! How great is our victory, and how benevolent is Your judgment!

These are the ten categories of the brethren, and the “book” of our complete defense, which we “took out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.” (Rev 5:7). This is our good news to you; “listen” to it (Acts 2:14), as our consolation in you is great.

We are all aware that the trial is not over yet, as we have yet many rounds, as much as wills the Holy One. “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid… What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory…” (Rom 9:14; 22-23).

This is the victory of the right hand of the Most High, accomplished through you and through us! So our constant entreaty is to be found in prayer for all, the prayer that we lift up with you to the One unto Whom belongs glory, power, worship, and dominion forever! Amen. 

Translated by His Eminence Metropolitan SILOUAN

 

 

AttachmentSize
Joint Statement of The Two Patriarchates Antioch and All The East (PDF)103.33 KB