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Stories on the Church of Antioch and the Middle East

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is an archdiocese of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. It traces its roots to first century Antioch (modern-day Antakya, Turkey), the city in which the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The Patriarchate is led by His Beatitude John X from Damascus, Syria. In addition to its continuing presence in Syria and Lebanon, the Antiochian Patriarchate has archdioceses in Europe; Asia; North, Central and South America; and Australia and New Zealand.

The Church of Antioch was established by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D., with St. Peter serving for the next eight years as its first prelate. The Church of Antioch is one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome. Antiochians are in full communion with other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions, such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Orthodox Church in America, as well as many other Orthodox jurisdictions around the world.

 

Latest News

Axios! Holy Synod of Antioch Elects New Metropolitan of Archdiocese of Hama, Syria

By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Synod of Antioch, under the presidency of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, elected His Grace Bishop Nicholas Baalbaki as the new metropolitan archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hama and Dependencies in Syria. Sayidna Nicholas succeeds His Eminence Metropolitan Elia Saliba of thrice-blessed memory who reposed in the Lord on April 1, 2017.
 
His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph took part in the election at the Patriarchal Monastery and Seminary in Balamand, Lebanon earlier this week, following the great feast of Pentecost. Sayidna Joseph congratulated his new brother Metropolitan Nicholas on behalf of the hierarchs, clergy, board of trustees and laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.
 
Metropolitan Nicholas was born to a pious Orthodox Christian family in 1957. His brother is V. Rev. George Baalbaki, the pastor of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Francisco, California. In addition to serving as clergyman since 1985, His Eminence was a surgeon and director of the Patriarchal Hospital of St. George in Hosn, Syria.

Metropolitan Joseph Leads Prayer Service for Kidnapped Metropolitans

On Bright Thursday, April 20, 2017, the Antochian Archdiocese was joined by co-hosts—the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese and the St. John of Damascus Fellowship of New Jersey—in sponsoring a timely prayer service at St. George Antochian Orthodox Church in Little Falls, for the abducted Archbishops of Aleppo, Metropolitan Paul and Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim. Metropolitan Paul and Metropolitan Yohanna vanished without a trace on April 22, 2013, after they drove together in hopes of negotiating the release of hostages in captivity. Metropolitan Yohanna’s deacon escaped, but his driver was killed. 

(Read the Paschal Message of His Beatitude John X, in which he issues a call for the liberation of Metropolitans Paul and Yohanna, and sign the petition that will be presented to the White House and the United Nations, "Help release the kidnapped archbishops of Syria.") 

Metropolitan Joseph Presides at Fifth Annual Syrian Relief Dinner and Prayer Service

Read the article in the Post-Gazette.

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided at the fifth annual Syrian Relief Dinner and Prayer Service, held this year at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA. His Grace Bishop Thomas was in attendance, along with other Antiochian clergy and hierarchs and clergy from other jurisdictions. The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee organized the service and dinner. 

The money will be distributed to programs that aid displaced Syrians internally, as well as to relief efforts that assist refugees in Lebanon, Greece and Jordan, said IOCC spokeswoman Kristen Fianni.

IOCC and Patriarchate of Antioch Minister to Syrian Children at Risk

Photo: iocc.orgPhoto: iocc.org(Baltimore, Md.) – After six years of conflict, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is urging continued support for programs to meet the needs of Syrian children and adolescents who face food insecurity, lack access to education, and bear deep psychological scars. Children displaced by the conflict in Syria as well as those who are now refugees outside of the country require support to address all aspects of their health and wellbeing.

The situation of more than 5.6 million children inside Syria, where IOCC has maintained an active presence since 2012 in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch's Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (GOPA-DERD), remains the most desperate.

Antiochian Village Bookstore Offers St. Raphael's Theological Thesis in English

The theological thesis of St. Raphael of Brooklyn is available for the first time in English. Translated from the Greek by Fr. Patrick Viscuso, The True Significance of Sacred Tradition and Its Great Worth was written by the beloved saint when he was a student at the Theological School of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Halki. In the thesis, St. Raphael presents an Orthodox response to Roman Catholic and Protestant proselytization efforts aimed at converting Orthodox Christians.

As Fr. Patrick explains in his introduction, complex historical and theological forces were at work in St. Raphael's world. Beginning in the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church—supported by Western powers—began to proselytize the Orthodox Christians of the Ottoman Empire. By the late nineteenth century, Protestant missionaries from the United States also joined in this effort. Saint Raphael's thesis and his refutation of Catholic and Protestant positions present an interesting and active dialogue with Western Christianity.

Presentation Features the Manuscript Heritage of Endangered Syriac Christianity in the Middle East

A lecture titled "Out of the Flames: Preserving the Manuscript Heritage of Endangered Syriac Christianity in the Middle East," will be offered on Monday, February 6, 2017, at 6 p.m., at Fordham University's Lincoln Center Campus. The speaker is Columba Stewart, O.S.B., professor of theology and executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

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Syriac Christians have a manuscript heritage that is among the richest in the Christian world. But they are also one of the most vulnerable minorities in the Middle East. This lecture will cover the significance of Syriac Christianity as a counterpoint to historically dominant Greek and Latin Christian cultures, as well as current efforts to prevent Syriac Christian manuscripts from being destroyed.

Statement from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph on the Recent Bombing of the Coptic Church in Egypt

A nun reacts as Egyptian security forces inspect the scene of the bomb explosion. (Khaled Desouki/Getty Images)A nun reacts as Egyptian security forces inspect the scene of the bomb explosion. (Khaled Desouki/Getty Images)Lest they be forgotten, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph urges the clergy and the laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese to continue to pray for peace for the people of Egypt, especially after the bombing of St. Peter Coptic Orthodox Church, next to St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, in Cairo. There, 25 Coptic Christians lost their lives, and 49 others – mostly women and children – were wounded during Sunday worship.

“These are defenseless people who did not deserve to have their lives ended or drastically altered forever,” Sayidna Joseph said. “All over the world, but especially in the Middle East, harmless Christians are crucified daily for their faith. When we ask ‘why,’ we know there is never a good answer.

“The injustice continues and the international community is silent. The Christians of the Middle East will live in this never-ending nightmare of terror – especially in the name of religion – without courageous powers stepping forward.

The 2016 Nativity Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch John X

His Beatitude Patriarch John XHis Beatitude Patriarch John XWith the mercy of God
 

John X

The Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

To my brethren the pastors of the holy Antiochian Church.

To my sons wherever they are in this Apostolic See.

"When it was time for thy presence on earth the first enrollment of the world took place. Then it was that thou didst decide to enroll the names of men who believe in thy nativity"

Every winter, the Baby of the cave visits us to wipe away with His simplicity, our distress and difficulties, to touch with His humility our souls, and to illumine our world with His divine peace.

The Lord used the cave to walk into the caves of our souls, to clean them and to crystallize them with His divine love.

On Christmas we are always called to remember that the Lord of the cave has come to join us and to be with us, to build up his home in our souls, and plant His seeds in the heart and in the whole human person. 

Metropolitan Joseph Offers Encouragement, Solutions for Christians Struggling in Holy Land

Although a shadow of death constantly hovers over them as a religious minority in the Holy Land and the Middle East, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph shared a saying of Christians living there: "We live in a land that has already experienced resurrection, so we always have hope." During his recent visit to Washington, D.C., Sayidna Joseph accepted an award for the Antiochian Archdiocese and gave the keynote address to the 18th International Conference of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF).

On Friday night, October 14, 2016, His Eminence gratefully received the "Living Stones Solidarity Award" as HCEF honored the Archdiocese's long history of caring for Palestinian Christians seeking spiritual support in North America. "This award is not bestowed only upon me as a Metropolitan," Sayidna said, "but upon our Archdiocese, which encompasses faithful believers from all cultures, nationalities, and races."

Refugee Charity Dinner to be Hosted by Holy Trinity in Pottstown, PA

A charity dinner to benefit refugees is being hosted by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Pottstown, PA.

"Refugee Aid: How the Orthodox Church Can Help"
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
Pottstown, PA
Saturday, November 12, 2016 
3:45 p.m.

Presentation and Vespers to follow