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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

Syrian Hierarchs Meet with Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

The official Website of the Department for External Relations, Russian Orthodox Church reported:

On 8 October 2013, the commemoration day of St. Sergius of Radonezh, after the Divine Liturgy and a thanksgiving celebrated in the Laura of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill met with the delegation of the Syrian hierarchs who attended the service.
The delegation includes Bishop Isaac of Apameia, vicar of the Damascus diocese (Patriarchate of Antioch); Archbishop Joseph Absi (Melkite Greek Catholic Church); Bishop Armash Nalbandian (Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin); Archbishop Mor Silwanos Butros (Peter) al-Ni'meh (Syriac Orthodox Church); and Archbishop Samir Nassar (Maronite Church).

Taking part in the meeting were also Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations; Archbishop Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR vice-chairman; and hieromonk Stefan Igumnov, a staff member of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations.

Fr. Thomas Zain, Archdiocese Vicar General, Interviewed on Syria by Hellenic Public Radio

Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Dean of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY, was interviewed at length on September 14 on the situation in Syria by Archimandrite Eugene Pappas of Hellenic Public Radio. The interview is available for listening below in its entirety.

His Beatitude Patriarch John X Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, met on Friday, September 27 with Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican in Rome. According to a report from Vatican Radio, "In his encounter with the Holy Father, the Patriarch spoke about the difficulties facing the Christian community in Syria and the surrounding region. He also talked about the plight of his own brother who was kidnapped last April, together with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo. The two leaders also shared their hopes for progress on the journey towards full Christian unity."

His Beatitude was interviewed by Vatican Radio after his meeting with Pope Francis. The interview is available here.

The following brief video report of the meeting has been made available by Rome Reports.

Metropolitan Philip Interviewed by Boston NPR on Syria

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip was interviewed this week by Boston's NPR radio station for their Here and Now program concerning the plight of the ancient Orthodox Christian communities of Syria. The interview is available for listening, and as a written transcript, both available here.

His Eminence in particular highlighted his concern for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria. (Read an appeal for the monastery from the Patriarchate of Antioch here.) Metropolitan Philip said in part:

"My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus."

Full interview available here.

Appeal from the Patriarchate of Antioch for the Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, Syria

The Patriarchate of Antioch writes on September 24, 2013, the feast of St. Thekla:

Military acts are increasing in our beloved country Syria and Man pays a high price for this tragedy. So we see destruction prevailing in all the country and we see Man pained, displaced, hungry, thirsty and missing life in all places and at all times. One aspect of this tragedy touches the village Maloula and her Monastery of St. Thekla, a place of pilgrimage which witnesses to the continuous Christian presence of love from the first centuries of Christendom, in the one part, and testifies also to the deep relationship which links citizens to whatever religion they might belong.

The Monastery of St. Thekla in Maloula, a cultural monument, which belongs to all Syrian citizens, and at the same time, an international heritage belonging to all humanity, lives difficult and painful days at this time. The monastery is located in a region where there is exchange of fire and this renders it very difficult and dangerous for it to be provided and supplied. Recently, this exchange of fire damaged totally the electrical generator rendering it impossible to supply the monastery with water and threatening, therefore, the survival of this place.

Russian Christians Dig Deep to Help Syrians

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September 14, 2013

Ordinary Russians are largely opposed to any military action in Syria. But that doesn't mean they're indifferent to the plight of people there. Parishioners up and down the country have been collecting money to send to troubled Syrians. In the past few months Russian churchgoers have sent $1.3 million to Syria.

They've dispatched the money to a Greek Orthodox church in Damascus, which will buy Syrians basic goods like food, clothes, and mattresses. 

The collection started when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, called upon Russian Christians to donate cash in June.
Since then Russians in churches as far away as Vladivostok and Murmansk have given money to be sent to Syria.

The collection started when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, called upon Russian Christians to donate cash in June.

Since then Russians in churches as far away as Vladivostok and Murmansk have given money to be sent to Syria. 

Read the full article

IOCC Video: Reaching out to Syrians

The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) are partnering to respond to the humanitarian needs of the thousands of displaced Syrian families seeking food, shelter, and basic necessities.

The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has reached epic proportions. The IOCC Website explains that since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, "more than 100,000 people have died and over 7 million people have been displaced from their homes—a situation that, according to the UN, is creating refugees at a rate not seen since the Rwandan genocide nearly 20 years ago."

IOCC is one of the few international non-governmental organizations helping the victims of strife from the inside of Syria, and they are ministering to refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan as well. To learn more, contact Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, (443) 823–3489, rtierney@iocc.org.

  

Metropolitan Philip Asks for Full Archdiocese Support for Antiochian Day of Solidarity on Sunday Sept. 15

As you may know, His Beatitude John  X, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, has designated Sunday September 15th as “Antiochian Day of Solidarity”.  His letter can be found here.

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip is asking all of our churches and missions in North America to give our full support to this appeal, and to make a special collection on Sunday September 15, 2013 which will benefit the victims in Syria who are suffering so terribly.

IOCC Aid Helps Newly Displaced Families In Syria

Photo: IOCC/GOPAPhoto: IOCC/GOPASept. 9, 2013

Give to the IOCC's Syrian relief efforts

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Throngs of displaced Syrians crowd before the gates of an Orthodox church in the coastal governorate of Tartous, awaiting their turns to register for humanitarian assistance at one of the four offices IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) have established in the governorate to assist with the influx of people needing aid. IOCC is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of displaced families who have sought the relative safety of Tartous from areas of intense conflict in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.

IOCC/GOPA volunteers work diligently to register the thousands of weary and homeless Syrian people who gather daily seeking food, shelter and basic household items like bedding and blankets. More than 3,300 displaced families have been registered to receive assistance such as housing support, crisis counseling, and remedial classes at a makeshift school for 500 displaced children. In response to the needs of the growing number of Syrian families arriving to Tartous and other governorates, IOCC is working to expand the assistance it is providing.

In the meantime, the IOCC has also helped resettle families displaced from the historic town of Maaloula. Read about these efforts on IOCC's Website.

 

Metropolitan Philip Interviewed by Orthodox Christian Network

From Orthodox Christian Network (OCN):

Join us for an exclusive interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. His Eminence has issued several statements calling for prayer and action on the current situation in Syria, where millions of Christians are suffering and in grave danger of persecution. Listen now to his thoughts on what will happen to Christians in Syria if the country is bombed, how people can help both the political situation and the millions of refugees, as well as about the Day of Solidarity that has been set for September 15th.

Read about Antiochian Day of Solidarity, Sunday September 15.

See articles from the Archdiocese on recent events in Syria here.