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Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Syria Ignatius IV dies

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Syria Ignatius IV dies

Ignatius IV (Hazim) in 2010Patriarch Ignatius was born in 1920 in the village of Murhada, near the city of Hama

The Greek Orthodox patriarch of Syria, Ignatius IV (Hazim), has died in neighbouring Lebanon at the age of 92.

Syria's state news agency, Sana, reported that Patriarch Ignatius died in Beirut's St George's hospital on Wednesday after suffering a stroke.

His remains would be brought from Lebanon to Syria for burial, it added.

Ignatius had led the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All The East, the largest Arab Christian Church in the Middle East, since 1979.

There are believed to be about a million members, the majority of whom are Syrians.

The Church is one of 14 autocephalous (ecclesiastically independent) Eastern Orthodox patriarchates, third in honorific rank after the churches of Constantinople and Alexandria.

Since the 14th Century, the patriarch has resided in Damascus.

Patriarch Ignatius was born in 1920 in the village of Murhada, near Hama.

In 1961, he was ordained Bishop of Palmyra, in central Syria. Nine years later, he became Metropolitan of Latakia, on the Mediterranean coast.

Syria's minority Christian community has not joined the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Many Christians are fearful for their future if the country's majority Sunni Muslim community chooses an Islamist leadership to replace decades of secular rule.

 

American Middle East Christians Congress' Comments on Elevation of Cardinal Patriarch Bechara Rai and Election of Pope Tawadros II

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 2, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 2, 2012

 

American Middle East Christians Congress' Comments on Elevation of 

Cardinal Patriarch Bechara Rai and Election of Pope Tawadros II

 

Dr. Ramsay Dass, President of the American Middle East Christians Congress, joined hundreds 

of religious, political, and community leaders in The Vatican on November 24, 2012 to celebrate 

the elevation of six new Cardinals to the College of Cardinals at St. Peter's Basilica, including 

His Eminence Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai.

 

This was followed by an official dinner hosted by 

the Lebanese Ambassador to The Vatican and attended by the President of Lebanon Honorable 

Michel Suleiman. Many members of the governmental, political, and religious organizations 

attended, where His Eminence was presented with the highest Lebanese honorarium. There were 

other functions in The Vatican and Rome in honor of His Eminence Patriarch Rai.

 

Dr. Dass, in his role as President of the American Middle East Christians Congress, had a 

meeting with His Eminence Patriarch Rai and members of his entourage, and had many bilateral 

meetings with political, religious, and community leaders who accompanied His Eminence and 

who were present from all over the world to attend this celebration. We also took advantage of 

delivering special articles and memoranda regarding the American Middle East Christians 

Congress and its activities to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's office, The Vatican Cardinal 

Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone's office, The Vatican Inter-Religious Dialogue Cardinal Jean

Louis Tauran, and many other faith-based and community-based organizations in Rome, Italy.

The elevation of Patriarch Rai is a pride, joy, and honor not only to the Maronite Christians, but 

to all the Middle East Christians. It is an extra distinction to His Eminence Patriarch Rai for the 

role he has played and will be playing toward the Middle East Christians, Maronites, and 

interfaith and inter-community organizations. 

 

Dr. Dass, President of the American Middle East Christians Congress, has also sent a 

congratulatory letter to His Holiness Tawadros II on his election as new Pope of the Coptic 

Orthodox Church.

 

These two events have come at a very delicate and precarious time for the Middle East 

Christians, especially with all the new political, religious, and geographical changes throughout 

the Middle East and Arab world. We believe these two prominent Christian leaders, along with 

the other leaders in other denominations, will be playing a very positive role to preserve 

Christianity and Christians in the Middle East and abroad. 

 

The American Middle East Christians Congress prays and pledges its support to work very 

closely with our Middle East Christian leadership and other organizations and interfaith 

organizations to bring harmony, peace, prosperity, civic and civil rights to all the inhabitants of 

the Middle East and Arab world, where all should be treated equally with freedom of religion, 

preserving culture, heritage, and human dignity.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Ramsay F. Dass, MD

President, American Middle East Christians Congress

Christianity and Christians in the Middle East and abroad. 

Pope elevates Rai and 5 other cardinals By Nicole Winfield

 

VATICAN CITY: Lebanon’s Beshara Rai is among six new cardinals who joined the elite club of churchmen who will elect the next pope Saturday, bringing a more geographically diverse mix into the European-dominated College of Cardinals.

 

Pope Benedict XVI presided over the ceremony Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica to formally elevate the six men, who hail from Colombia, India, Nigeria, the Philippines and the United States as well as Lebanon. As Benedict read each name aloud in Latin, applause and cheers erupted from the pews.

 

In explaining his choices for this "little consistory," Benedict said he was essentially completing his last cardinal-making ceremony held in February, when he elevated 22 cardinals, the vast majority of them European archbishops and Vatican bureaucrats.

 

The six new cardinals "show that the church is the church of all peoples and speaks in all languages," Benedict said last month. "It's not the church of one continent, but a universal church."

 

That said, the College of Cardinals remains heavily European even with the new additions: Of the 120 cardinals under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope, more than half - 62 - are European. Critics have complained that the College of Cardinals no longer represents the church, since Catholicism is growing in Asia and Africa but is in crisis in much of Europe.

 

With the new additions, the College of Cardinals is a tad more multinational: Latin America, which boasts half of the world's Catholics, now has 21 voting-age cardinals; North America, 14; Africa, 11; Asia, 11; and Oceana, one.

 

Among the six new cardinals is Archbishop James Harvey, the American prefect of the papal household. As prefect, Harvey was the direct superior of the pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who is serving an 18 month prison sentence in a Vatican jail for stealing the pope's private papers and leaking them to a reporter in the greatest Vatican security breach in modern times.

 

The Vatican spokesman has denied Harvey, 63, is leaving because of the scandal. But on the day the pope announced Harvey would be made cardinal, he also said he would leave the Vatican to take up duties as the archpriest of one of the Vatican's four Roman basilicas. Such a face-saving promotion-removal is not an uncommon Vatican personnel move.

 

Harvey's departure has led to much speculation about who would replace him in the delicate job of organizing the pope's daily schedule and arranging audiences.

 

Aside from Harvey, the new cardinals are: Abuja, Nigeria Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Bogota, Colombia Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez; Manila, Philippines Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle; and the major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India, His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal.

 

Cardinals serve as the pope's closest advisers, but their main task is to elect a new pope.

 

The six new cardinals are all under age 80. Their nominations bring the number of voting-age cardinals to 120, 67 of whom were named by Benedict, all but ensuring that his successor will be chosen from a group of like-minded prelates.

 

Saturday's consistory marks the first time in decades that not a single European or Italian has been made a cardinal - a statistic that has not gone unnoticed in Italy. Italy still has the lions' share of cardinals, though, with 28 voting-age "princes" of the church.

 

Rai is the fourth patriarch from Lebanon to be appointed cardinal, alongside Patriarchs Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, Anthony Peter Khoraish and Boulos Meouchi, who was the first Lebanese to be appointed cardinal in 1965. – With The Daily Star.

 

 

Read more: <a href = "http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2012/Nov-24/196060-pope-elevates-rai-and-5-other-cardinals.ashx#ixzz2DvHXgqNn">test</a> (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

 

 

Copyrights 2011, The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved 24/11/2012

 

CAIRO — Pope Tawadros II was enthroned Sunday as the new head of Egypt's Copts

 New leader of Egypt Coptic Christians enthroned 

By Christophe De Roquefeuil (AFP) – Nov 18, 

2012

 

Tawadros ascended the huge wooden 

throne of St Mark's Cathedral embossed 

with lions (AFP, Khaled Desouki)

 

 

CAIRO — Pope Tawadros II was enthroned 

Sunday as the new head of Egypt's Copts in an 

elaborate ceremony at Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral 

\amid rising fears about the community in a country 

now ruled by Islamists.

Dozens of Coptic Christian clerics in flowing robes took part in the four-hour ceremony, the first 

in four decades, as the cathedral bells tolled.

Tawadros received the ornate crown and crucifix from Bishop Pachomius, who had served as the 

church's interim leader, before ascending the huge wooden throne of St Mark embossed with 

lions.

Arabic, English and Greek mingled with the ancient Coptic language of the church's liturgy in 

the psalms and prayers of the service and the tributes of well-wishers.

Tawadros, 60, was chosen on November 4 to succeed Pope Shenuda III, who died in March. He 

was chosen after a blindfolded altar boy picked his name from a chalice, according to church 

custom.

He becomes spiritual head of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East and 118th pope in 

a line dating back to the origins of Christianity and to Saint Mark, the apostle and author of one 

of the four Gospels, who brought the new faith to Egypt.

Shenuda, a careful, pragmatic patriarch, died at a critical time for the increasingly beleaguered 

minority, which has faced a surge in sectarian attacks after an uprising overthrew president 

Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and saw Islamists rise to power.

The pope leads the Coptic Orthodox community in a country where Christians make up between 

six and 10 percent of an 83-million population.

In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI urged Tawadros to strengthen relations between the Catholic and 

Coptic churches.

"It is with fraternal joy that I send greetings to your Holiness on the happy occasion of your 

enthronement," Benedict said in a message sent to Tawadros.

"I pray too that relations between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church will 

continue to grow closer, not only in a fraternal spirit of collaboration, but also through a 

deepening of the theological dialogue," Benedict said.

Amid increased fears about the community's future after the overthrow of Mubarak, Tawadros 

will be its main contact with Islamist President Mohamed Morsi who has repeatedly pledged to 

be a president "for all Egyptians".

Copts have suffered sectarian attacks for years, but since Mubarak's ouster dozens have been 

killed in sectarian clashes and during a protest in October last year crushed by the then ruling 

military.

Tawadros "seems like a wise man. God chose him at a good time because we need a person like 

him in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood," said Coptic dentist Jihan Refaat.

"We need someone strong to solve all the problems of the Copts at the moment," said Antwan 

Alfons, an information technology professional.

Morsi sent Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to the ceremony as his representative. The church had 

initially said Morsi himself would attend, but then said he would be absent as he dealt with the 

crisis in Gaza.

The president sent a letter of congratulations to Tawadros and wished the new pope "success in 

his efforts to achieve unity for the Egyptian people".

Tawadros's official biography stresses his wish for good relations with Muslims, saying he has 

warned that a draft constitution would be unacceptable if it enshrined a "religious state".

Egypt's three main churches have withdrawn their representatives from the Islamist-dominated 

constituent assembly preparing the disputed new charter to replace the one suspended after 

Mubarak's overthrow.

Under Mubarak, the constitution vaguely stipulated that the main source of legislation were 

principles of Islamic law. The draft charter is set to clarify that article with a stricter 

interpretation.

Tawadros also advocates further unity between Egypt's Copts and those of the diaspora, whose 

leaders have often been more outspoken against abuses suffered by the Christians in Egypt.

Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved

His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara Rai,

October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara Rai,

On behalf of the American Middle East Christians Congress, we would like to join the Lebanese 

people and the Middle East Christians everywhere on your appointment as a new Cardinal in the 

College of Cardinals.

This appointment has a greater importance than just an appointment as a Cardinal, as it 

recognizes you as the important Middle East Christian leader now in the Middle East and abroad, 

especially as the Middle East is undergoing volatile and violent changes everywhere and is 

affecting Christians and Christianity in the Middle East and in diaspora. 

Having met you in Michigan in April, 2012 and also in Lebanon in July, 2012, I am very thrilled 

that they could not have picked a better person than you to be an eminent Cardinal representative 

of the Middle East Christians. 

My prayers and best wishes for your success in your leadership, not only to Lebanon, but to the 

Middle East Christians and to humanity at large. 

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Ramsay F. Dass, MD

President, American Middle East Christians Congress

24601 Coolidge Highway

Oak Park, MI 48237

www.amecc.us / www.middleeastchristian.org 

Office: (248) 546-9100

Cell: (248) 763-6006

E-Mail: Rfdass@aol.com 

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