His Beatitude Theophilos III

Patriarch of Jerusalem

Sunday 7 May 2017

Your Grace, Archbishop Justin,

Dear Mrs. Welby,

Your Grace Archbishop Suheil,

Dear Father Hosam,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Dear Fathers,

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Christ is risen!

On behalf of the Churches and Christian Communities of the Holy Land, we congratulate you, dear Archbishop Justin, on your installation into the Canonry of Mount Carmel in this cathedral.

This blessed occasion is a significant sign of your relationship to the Holy Land. For in both our Orthodox and Anglican traditions, we recognize the importance of the rootedness of the Church’s ministry in, and the Church’s relationship to, communities of faithful Christians. In both our traditions, the ordained are grounded in local communities, to emphasise that we bear a responsibility for that particular community of people. In the Church, there is no pastor without a community, and no community without a pastor.

By placing you in the stall of Mount Carmel in this cathedral, Archbishop Suheil does not simply bestow an honour upon you; more than this, a new and weighty relationship between you and our beloved Holy Land has been established. We rejoice in this, and we welcome you as a fellow labourer with us on behalf of the Church in the Holy Land.

It is pleasant coincidence that this installation falls in the days when in both our traditions we are celebrating the Feast of Saint George, the noble patron of England and this cathedral, and one of the most beloved saints of the Holy Land. So we are reminded of the words of the Orthodox service of Matins for the Feast of Saint George:

The all-glorious memorial of the servant

 hath shined upon us

 as a companion of the resurrection of Christ,

 whereon let us gather, ye faithful,

and joyfully keep the feast.

(Matins, Ode Three)

In becoming a “companion of the resurrection of Christ”, Saint George joined his life and efforts to Christ in his resurrection, and so shared in the new life that the resurrection promises to all. This makes him a model for all Christians, and especially for those who exercise spiritual leadership, for we must in our turn also be “companions of the resurrection of Christ”.

On your pilgrimage to the Holy Land, you have visited many places, and you have encountered many people and communities under pressure. There is much darkness and despair in our world today, and our region is suffering in terrible ways. Innocent people are the targets of violence, persecution, displacement, and the horrors of war. We in the Holy Land know the burden of the cross of the risen Lord, as well as the power of the resurrection.

We wish to take this opportunity also to thank you, dear Archbishop Suheil, for your commitment to peace and reconciliation, and your unwavering support and efforts to ensure the well-being of the Christian presence in our region. And we also happily celebrate the support and encouragement that you, dear Mrs. Welby give, not only to your beloved husband, but also to many in the Anglican Community and beyond the bounds of your own Church.

As we gather on this occasion, as one might say, in a contemporary “Upper Room” that displays the wonderful diversity of Pentecost, to welcome you, Your Grace, to your canonry in this cathedral, may the joyful Paschal spirit that permeates this season, and which was the inspiration of Saint George, make us “companions of the resurrection”. And may the risen Lord give us the strength and the resolve, like Saint George, to strive against the forces of darkness and despair on behalf of the people of God.

Christ is risen!

Thank you.