The Holy Antiochian Synod, presided by Patriarch John X (Yazigi), held its sixteenth extraordinary session, on April 25, 2023, in Balamand.
The Metropolitans Elias (Archdiocese of Beirut and dependencies); Elias (Archdiocese of Tyre, Sidon, and dependencies); Silouan (Archdiocese of Byblos, Botrys and dependencies); Basilios (Archdiocese of Akkar and dependencies); Ephrem (Archdiocese of Tripoli, Koura and dependencies); Ignatius (Archdiocese of France, Western and Southern Europe); Ghattas (Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait, and dependencies); Antonios (Archdiocese of Zahleh, Baalbek, and dependencies); Nicolas (Archdiocese of Hama and dependencies); Athanasius (Archdiocese of Lattakia and dependencies); Ephrem (Archdiocese of Aleppo, Alexandretta, and dependencies); and Nifon Saikali Metropolitan of Philippopolis and Representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow were present. Also in attendance was Bishop Gregorios Khoury, Secretary of the Holy Synod, and Bishop Romanos El-Hannat, Patriarchal Vicar.
The Metropolitans who have apologized for not being able to attend are as follows: Sergio (Archdiocese of Santiago and Chile); Damaskinos (Archdiocese of São Paulo and All Brazil); Saba (Archdiocese of New York and All North America); Isaac (Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe); Silouan (Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland); Basilios (Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines); Ignatius (Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands); Jacques (Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and All Argentina). Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi has been present in the prayers and invocations of the Synod Fathers, despite his physical absence caused by his abduction.
After invoking the Holy Spirit, and begging for divine mercy, the Synod Fathers first examined the issue of the abducted metropolitans of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim, and denounced the complete international silence over it for over a decade now. They called for unraveling the mystery of this case, which typifies the continuous suffering of the afflicted people of the East.
As this meeting comes in the midst of the blessed Pascha, and after the devastating earthquake that struck numerous territories belonging to the Antiochian Patriarchate, the Synod Fathers offered thankfulness to the Risen Christ, Who trampled down the power of the earthquake’s death and made the witness of the faithful in the Mother Land of Antioch a splendid witness to the power of His glorious Resurrection. Hence, the Synod Fathers expressed, along with His Beatitude, their pridefulness in the Orthodox people of Antioch and their appreciation of these people’s steadfastness and adherence to their faith, despite the ordeal that befell them. The Patriarch and the delegation accompanying him experienced this fact during their pastoral visit to the earthquake-affected Antiochian cities. The Synod Fathers beg the Lord God to continue opening new ways for the Antiochian Archdioceses to support in every way possible these regions and to alleviate this painful affliction. The Synod expresses its gratitude to the faithful in the homeland and countries abroad, and to all those who have come to the aid of the afflicted brothers and sisters, and for the sincere love, they have shown.
The Synod Fathers prayed for the whole Orthodox world, asking the Risen Lord to protect His Church from divisions. They expressed their solidarity with the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who are suffering from the scourge of war and the injustice of religious persecution. They appealed to the world leaders to pay attention to all that is being done against the children and leaders of this Church, in terms of discrimination, and violation of human rights and religious freedom. This has amounted to their expulsion from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, a place which they rebuilt after its previous destruction.
The Synod Fathers also extended heartfelt greetings to the dignified Islamic denominations on the occasion of the blessed Eid al-Fitr, which returns this year in an atmosphere that inspires hope in the Arab world. The atmosphere of rapprochement is initiated by leaders with wisdom that deserve all appreciation and praise because this atmosphere offers peace among the peoples of this East and puts it above all other considerations. The Synod Fathers pray that the Lord will guide the leaders and presidents to every good work, so that the peoples of the region may enjoy a peaceful life worthy of their kindheartedness and the testimony of fraternal solidarity to which heaven calls them to follow.
The Synod was officially informed by the Patriarch about the letter of resignation submitted by the Arch-shepherd of the Archdiocese of Homs and dependencies, Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem. They were also briefed by the Patriarch on the investigative measures taken by the Patriarch and the opinion of the committee he formed regarding the circumstances and events surrounding the resignation. The Holy Synod accepted the resignation of Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem, and returned him to the monastic state, calling on him to spend the remaining time of his life in the Lord’s mercy and peace.
The Synod Fathers pray for the sons and daughters of the Church of Antioch, wherever they are, so that the Lord God may protect them from the turmoil whose causes are multiplying in the world. They also ask them to pray for the Synod Fathers, so that their ministry may remain pleasing to the Lord and with no reproach, rightly dividing the word of God’s truth.
Christ is Risen!
Source: Patriarchate of Antioch