On Thursday, September 30th / October 13th 2011, His Eminence Minister of Greece Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis being on a visit to the state of Jordan after his visit to Egypt and on his way to Lebanon met with His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos at Intercontinental Hotel in Amman.

During this visit the Minister of Foreign Affairs was escorted by a seven-member delegation from the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, a member of whom was Mr. Themistoklis Dimidis who had served as the Greek Consul General in Jerusalem years ago, Representatives of the General Council of Foreign Affairs , economic operators and journalists.

In this meeting, His Beatitude was escorted by the Elder Chief, Archbishop of Constantina, Aristarchos, Archimandrite f. Hieronymus and Archimandrite f. Philoumenos.

In the beginning of the above mentioned meeting the Minister discussed with His Beatitude in private regarding issues of the Middle East, the Council of Churches in the Middle East and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, having His ecclesiastical jurisdiction in three political jurisdictions, Jordan, Israel, and Palestinian Autonomy and attending to the well-being of His congregation and the Christians in the Middle East and contributing the utmost concerning the peacekeeping process, through His pacificatory and conciliatory stance and life as well.

After this private meeting followed a discussion in a wider circle involving all the members of the Minister’s escort as well as the members accompanying His Beatitude.

This discussion revolved around the importance of the Most Holy Shrines, which for Orthodoxy and Romiosini have rightfully been kept and protected by the Patriarchate and until today have attracted numerous pious pilgrims as well as followers of religious tourism and the attention of the politicians due to Their importance and Their place in the ever-forming political situation in Jerusalem.

This meeting and this discussion has certainly constituted a step forward as for the cooperation between the Patriarchate and Greece, as a successor of the Byzantine Empire for the support of the very ancient and inalienable rights of Othodoxy in the Holy Land.

Residing in the Metropolitan Church of the Patriarchate in Amman, His Beatitude participated the following Friday, October 1st /14th 2011, in the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the Metropolitan chapel of St. Nektarios and preached the numerous congregation regarding the holy work of the Church through Its sacraments where our Lord Jesus Christ is invisibly however actually present.

Chief Secretary’s Office

(translated from the original document in Greek by Mrs. Irini Valasi)



Between the 22nd of June / 6th of July and the 23rd of June / 7th of July, the Swedish Christian Study Centre (SCSC) located nearby David’s Gate, organised an International Conference on the Christian presence and its heritage in the Holy Land, particularly  that of the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Gaza.

Amongst the speakers at this Conference, was the representative of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem His Eminence Aristarchos Archbishop of Constantina and Chief Secretary, who held a speech on the theme of Saint Porphyrios Bishop ofGaza– ‘The life and Thought of St. Porphyrios’.

Invitee speaker was also Dr. John N. Tleel, as the representative of the Greek Community in Jerusalem. Dr. Tleel is an elder Jerusalemite, Rum –Orthodox and dentist by profession. He is one of the devoted members of the Patriarchate and author of the book ‘I am Jerusalem’. Dr. Tleel gave a lecture with the title: ‘Profile of the Hellenic Community in Jerusalemin the 20th Century’ which is cited below:

  “International Conference:


 ‘Profile of the Hellenic Community inJerusalemin the 20th Century’

 John N. TIeel, author of “I amJerusalem”

This profile theme, is not a research, or a study, it is not a full history, it is not about personal experiences, it is not a living making of history, but it can be, a tentative and brief combination, of a huge and vast historical contribution, to the Holy City of Jerusalem, 4of the Hellenic Community, or the Hellenic expression, the Hellenic Παροικία (Paroikia) in Jerusalem, in the 20th Century’, and regrettably and sadly, its ultimate decline, and almost fateful disappearance, as it looks today in 201 1.

 Hellenic civilization penetrated and expanded in this part of the world and especially in Jerusalem, in the fourth century BC, when Alexander the Great, sitting victorious on the back of his horse, entered and saw Jerusalem from Mount Scopus, not so far from this room, where we are gathered today, and Sune Fahlgren, our host, and Director of the SCSC, will, certainly and boastfully, ask us later on, to go upstairs on the roof, to view and admire the fantastic panorama of the surrounding Jerusalem area.

 Alexander the Great, fourth century BC, Constantine the Great, fourth century AD, Patriarch Sophronios the Rum. seventh century AD, great makers of theJerusalemhistory, are the interconnected inspirers, to all the 24 BC and AD centuries, of the rich and many-sided Hellenic history ofJerusalem.

 Even before the 20th century, we can discover celebrated names, like Φιλοκτήτης Νέγρης (Philoktitis Negris) (1860) doctor, who published an essay “on cholera”, also the famous doctor Χαράλαμπος Μαζαράκης (Charalambos Mazarakis) (1870), who acted as substitute for the Greek Consulate, Αστεριάδης (Asteriadis), a Government official, who was also Mayor of Jerusalem, Σταματιάδης (Stamatiadis), a doctor, Φλωρέντζου (Florentzou) and many others.

 Until 1948 the Hellenic Community ofJerusalem, or the Paroikia. numbered 2000 residents. They were living in theOldCity, within the walls, in the Hellenic Όμιλος (Homilos), called Greek Colony, in the upper Bakaa, in Katamonas, the ancient Hellenic name and location of the Katamon, and in all the neighborhoods of the Capital of Palestine, which wasJerusalem.

All the 23 Greek/Rum Orthodox convents and monasteries of theOldCity, at that time, not as today, were full and vibrant with Greeks of all ages.

 1902 to World War One

The residents were confined in theOldCity. Outside the Walls, making their appearance, sporadically and fearfully, were various neighborhoods. Institutions and Monasteries belonging to the French, Americans, Germans, Italians, Swedish etc.

At that time the few in number members were professionals, more merchants, employees and technicians.

Among the Professionals were, the doctors: Nikolakis Spyridonos, Photios Eukleidis, Nikiphoros Mazarakis, Nikolaos Papaioannou, Georgios Yerousis, Varnavas Vareltzis.

A parenthesis: Nikiphoros Mazarakis was also the President of the early and already Benevolent Hellenic Association “Ευποιία” (Eupoiia) and served as director in theIsraeliteHospitalas well. Nikolaos Papaioannou was the physician of Patriarch Damianos. End of the parenthesis.

Chemists: Christakis Gaitanopoulos, Neoklis Ioannidis, Argyrios Mavromichalis.

 A personal parenthesis, for the sake of the Hellenic History in the 20th Century: My mother came toJerusalemfrom Mathytos, sometime before its destruction in 1915. Mathytos is situated in the north of thePeninsulaofThraki, on the west side of the Hellisponte and not far from theDardanelles. Today it makes the western or European part ofTurkey. My mother came for an eye treatment, at theSt. JohnOphthalmicHospital. Her brother Evangelos, was already inJerusalem, but she stayed in the house of the Chemist Neoclis Ioannidis and his wife Euthalia, until she married my Palestinian father. Euthalia was the sister of the knownJerusalemhistorian of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, and later on, Archbishop of Athens and allGreeceand author of ‘The History of theChurchofJerusalem”. Neoclis was the Pharmacist at the drug store and the hospital of the Patriarchate, located in theOldCity, in the old and first floor, under the two upper structures, of today’s, two-storiedGloriaHotel, built in 1951 and 1969. This much, much older part of the three stories building, during the Jordanian rule 1948-1967, served as the main office of the Palestinian/ Jordanian Mayor of Jerusalem, as well as the Municipality. Today, 201 1, this nearby Rum Orthodox monument in the Old City, a hospital and a pharmacy, during the Ottoman occupation, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, today, is an Israeli Municipal annex. End of the parenthesis.

Advocate: Symeon Petasis.

Architects: Nikiphoros Petasis, Christodoulos Spyridonidis.

Professors: Georgios Vrachypedis, Konstantinos Eli ad is, Georgios Modinos, Nikolaos Lodis, Agapitos Arfaras, Nikolaos Ka’iretlidou and many others.

Merchants: Theodoros Inglesis, Minas Spathopoulos, Christiphoros Christophorou, Antonios Kapelos, Sakelaris, Konstantinos Micha’ilidis, Avramidis, Konstantinidis, Lambrou, Dedas (Chadjipetrou), Sotiriou and many others.

Book-seller: Dimitrios Takos.

 During that early, important and active period, the Greek Government was no less active. Γρυπάρης (Gryparis) was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, and Μιλτιάδης

Ραφαήλ (Miltiadis Raphael) was serving as Consul of Greece in Jerusalem.

 Some names as a tribute to the memory of the families of that time and period:

Avramidi, Aga, Anastasiadi, Argyriadi, Atseli, Attaliotou, And read L Apergi. Alamanidou, Avgerinou, Valvi, Vasiliadou, Vareltzi, Velazertou, Vozemberg, Voskopoulou, Gavrielidou, Galtanopoulou, Karafylaki, Yerasimou, Yerousi, Georgiadou, Georgiadou, Yerousi, Georgiou, Yianniou, Daga, Danielidou, Deda, Dimitriadou, Drakouli, Zafiriadou, Zographou Zographou, Inglesi, Inglesi, Ignatiadou, loannidou, Kaloudi, Kantopoulou, Kara’itlidou, Carnapa, Karaphylaki, Katsinopoulou, Keladitou, Kretekidou, Lambrou, Laskaridou, Louvari, Lykidou, Malafatopoulou, Matzaridou, Mauridou, Banes, Megasthenous, Meimaraki, Mykonos, Misyrli, Michailidou, Moustaki, Moutafidou, Mylona, Mystakidou, Nikolaidou, Nikolaidou, Ninon, Panaretou, Papadopoulou, Patetsou, Patlakou, Petridi, Podia, Poteri, Protoppapa, Reveli, Repanidou, Savvidou, Saridi, Solomonidi, Strafti, Sphaellou, Philippidou, Flamba, Fokylidou, Chatzipetraki, Chnaroyannaki, Chouli, Antoniou and, and…

In 1902, with the Greek Consul General I. Alexandropoulos at the head, and some of the persons already mentioned above: Nikiphoros Mazarakis, Nikolaos. Spyridonos, Photios Eukleidou, Nikolaos Papaioannou, Georgios Yerousis, Christakis Gaitanopoulos and Konstantinos Eliadis, and with the generous donation offered by the great benefactor and the knownJerusalembuilder. Archimandrite Euphthymios, the Greek Orthodox Superior (Skevophylax) of the Church of the Anastasis (Resurrection), the area and the land of the GREEK COLONY was chosen. The holy earth ofJerusalemwas dug and the foundations, for the building of the first houses and the Club (Λέσχη), were placed.


The start of 1920

 The war was over. The British enteredJerusalem. A new wind of hope began blowing, the community started again to reorganize itself, after the destructive effects of the war. New names of university graduates, doctors, chemists, teachers etc., were added to the list of the professionals.

In 1922 the “Φιλόπτωχος Ελληνική Αδελφότης” (Charitable Hellenic Brotherhood) was founded. The founders were seven members of the community.

 In 1924 the first women’s Association was founded: “η Ένωσις Ελληνίδων Κυριών” “η Οδηγήτρια”, (The Hellenic Ladies Union). Photo Mavromichali was the foundress, and Sophia Spyridonos was the first President, of a committee of nine members.

 The Hellenic Boy Scout Movement, the oldest inPalestine, was founded by Markos Lioufis, in 1920. He came fromCairo. He organized the movement and made it a member of the Universal Scout Family. In 1950, after participating in the Pan-Hellenic Jamboree, inDionysos,Greece, the Boy Scout Association (1928) became a member of the Scouts of Greece. Some leading names for the sake of history: Evangelos Solomonidis, Elias Kareklas, Christophoros Christophorou, Konstantinos Papadopoulos, Panayiotis Ignelis, Kyriakos Papanastasiou, Chrysostomos Karathanasis, Ioannis Ardizoglou, Evangelos Kaloudis.

Back inJerusalemfrom the Jamboree in Dionysos, in 1950,1 was asked to contribute to the activities of the Greek Boy Scouts. Reluctantly, and with mixed feelings, I consented. It was a mission impossible, in difficult, uncertain and changing political times. From 1952 to 1973, I published the Greek Scouts Magazine “To Τρίφυλλο”, (To Triphyllo, the Trefoil), the Scouts emblem, and “Al-Zambaka” in Arabic. Initially it was stenciled and in Greek only, but blossomed, not only into a multilingual printed magazine, but also ecumenical, serving the entire population. In 1957, ” To Σώμα Ελλήνων Προσκόπων”, the Boy Scouts ofGreece, honourned me with the ” Special Service Medal”, “Μετάλλιον Ευδόκιμου Υπηρεσίας”. It was not for me, but it meant ” O! Hellene Scouts of Jerusalem, thank you for, τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι”, (Thermopylai, “the hot gates,” 480 BC, Leonidas with the 300 Spartiates). The Medal was conferred on me, by Greek Consul General Pavlos Pantermalis, on behalf ofGreece, at the Greek Consulate in theOldCity, in St. Anne’s Greek Orthodox Monastery. The Consulate also became a ‘distinguished refugee’ in theOldCity!

 Scouts are sometimes the mosaic mirror ofJerusalem. Parading inJerusalemwith their national Greek Scout flag waving, on Hellenic national days, the Greek Scouts, entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the flag, and then folding it, and placing it behind the door, on the right side of the Church of the Anastasis. This was an exclusive right.

 In 1928, the “Social and Athletic Association “Ηρακλής, (Hercules)” was founded, and in the middle of the century, a new Association, the “Ολυμπιακός” (Olympic) replaced it.

 In 1938 the “Hellenic Community of Jerusalem”, “Η Ελληνική Κοινότης Ιεροσολύμων”, was founded. The long awaited dream and event at last was realized. It was an official and historic recognition. The first Executive Committee: Themistoklis Saoulis, the first President, and members: Socratis Tokatlidis, Pangratios Vareltzis, Eugenios Philalithis, Argyrios Ignatiadis, Emmanouil Kasotis, and Antonios Antipas. M. Sakelariadis and Dimitrios Papas were the involved Consuls General of Greece.

 In 1938, and for the first time, the Greek Government, injected some modern Greek education into the classic Gymnasium of the Patriarchate. They sent three professors: Georgios Chronopoulos, and Apostolos Chatziemmanouil, philologists, and Dimitrios Photopoulos, for mathematics, physics, and chemistry. My brother David and I, were fortunate, to have known them as our professors, as well as friends.


1940 World War TWO

 October 28, 1940, the famous and historic: OXI-NO! The Greeks fought heroically an unequal war, against the invading Italians and Germans, but eventually the Germans occupiedGreece. The war and the occupation brought temporarily, a change in the Hellenic demographic map ofJerusalem. Greek refugees fleeing the German occupation, took refuge inPalestineand especially inJerusalem. King George the second ofGreecemade a historic visit toJerusalem. Patriarch Timotheos and the King, in the Church of the Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre). The Patriarch addresses the King: “Your Majesty, you are the first Hellene King,

who visits the Holy Places, after the triumphal entry of Emperor Heracleios, into the Holy City of Jerusalem”, in 630 then, and today,2011, inthis Swedish room, we are “Celebrating the first 2000 years of Christian Heritage in the Holy Land”. And eleven years more.

 The Hellenic community took an active share and fought also in the war. Two young Jerusalemites, Anestis Zographos and Manolis Mykonos gave their lives serving in the submarine “Papanikolis”, and in the destroyer “Adrias”. Moreover the twenty years old, Chrysanthi Antipa, was one of the victims, at theKingDavidHotelexplosion. Then, I was an eye- witness, of the passing by, in front of me, of the terrible mass of funerals.

 A tribute to the valiantJerusalemyoung men who fought:

 1) Avramidis K., 2) Abouggelis N., 3) Arkeftidis or Ardizoglou S., 4) Yanniou An.,

5)Danielidis Str., 6) Dimitriadis Chr., 7) Iordanou Pan., 8)Kalamatianos P.,

9) Kalogeropoulos Γ., 10)KaraphylakisI., 11)Katsopoulos St., 12) Michailidis Γ.,

13) Papadopoulos Em., 14), Plakas G.,15) Potaris N.,16) Sophoulis Em., 17) Spathopoulos ΑΙ.,

18) Tsichlakis Gavr.,19) Christophorou Chr., 20) Anthopoulos Α., 21) Dimitriadis P.,

22)DimitropoulosI., 23) Zacharakis Γ., 24) Zografou P., 25) Zographos F.,

26) Kalogeropoulos D., 27) Kardasopoulos B., 28) Kosmidis Γ., 29) Kaskaridis N.,

30) Bogdanidis D., 31) Papanikolaou K., 32) Mykonos ΑΙ., 33)MykonosManolis,

34) Zografos Anestis, 35) Papadopoulos Α., 36) Papadopoulos H., 37) Spathopoulos G.,

38) Tsichlakis K., 39) Chavounitis Th., 40) Elenitsas K., 41) Elenitsas P., 42) Sophoulis Γ.

 A solemn moment of History! Patriarch Timotheos, ατή Λέσχη, in the Hellenic club, addresses the newly mobilized and offers to each one of them a cross.


May 1948

 Jerusalem was cut in two. When history is cruel, it is also indiscriminate and makes no distinction. The fate of the Palestinian Arabs, was also the fate of the Palestinian Hellenic Community. The majority of the families took refuge in theOldCity. Many names, are immortalized in the last issue of the Magazine Triphyllo (1973), as well as in I amJerusalem. It was the beginning of the bitter dispersal. For a little they continued struggling and coping with the situation and at the same time continuing faithfully their activities. To my profound conviction, this Jerusalem Hellenic Community of the 20th century, wherever in the world they settled,Jerusalemand onlyJerusalem, wasJerusalem. And this should be our eternal tribute to them.

The result, two Communities emerged, one in theJordanianOldCityand around, and one in the Israeli side, and around the Hellenic club.

 Today, and after the 1948 and 1967 wars, still two Committees exist for the few remaining persons, one in the Old City, East Jerusalem: Dr. Konstantinos Petrakis, Dr. Nikolaos Ninos, Vailios Triantaphyllidis, Ioannis Ardizoglou, Georgios Stavridis, and Georgios Varaclas, and one in the old Greek Colony, West Jerusalem: Vasilios Tzaferis, president, Konstantinos Anastasiou, vice-president, Vasilios Triantaphyllidis, secretary, Konstantinos Moumtzoglou, treasurer, Anastasios Damianos, commissioner, Panayiotis Secherlis,

Alexandras Korfiatis, consultants, and two members from theOldCity, Nikolaos Ninos, and Sophia Vottarou.

 And, I cannot leave out, the charitable Ladies of theOldCity: Sophia Vottarou, Eleni Petraki, El I i Solomonidou, Mariana Banayan, Phano Papanastasiou, Theodora Panayiotopoulou-Vasiliadou and Artemis Anastasiou.

On the 15 of May, 2011, the Committee in the Israeli side ofJerusalem, invited me to attend an Easter Festivity at the famous and historic Greek Club, in the historic Hellenic Colony, known, as the Greek Colony. The Greek Consul General Mr. Sotirios Athanasiou, his wife, Mrs. Kantiana, a handful of the traditional Greek Jerusalemites, and more non Greeks were present. The nostalgia for the glorious past was deeply felt.

Ending wishfully, and thinking hopefully, I feel confident, that the Hellenic Phoenix of Jerusalem, shall rise again from its ashes, and this time, before being completely burnt!”



– Archimandrite Kleopas koikylidis, 1905.

-Konstantinos Mavridis, Bulletin, “Ελληνική Ζωή”, (Hellenic Life, 1946)

-Irini Philalithi- Mavromichali, Magazine, “To Triphyllo” (1972-1973 No. 110-113)

-John N. Tleel, “I am Jerusalem” (2007 Second Edition)

 OldCity Jerusalem July 6,2011 Bilda

Swedish Christian Study Centre

Chief Secretary’s Office.



Jerusalem 08th of August 2011,  Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th of July 2011.

The Dean and Chapter of Westminsterwith the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster extended an invitation to his Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to attend the International conference on Christians in theHoly Land. His Beatitude graciously nominated Ramzi Zananiri to attend the conference on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The meetings were held at the Lambeth Palace which has been aLondon residence of Archbishops of Canterbury since the thirteenth century. It acts as home for the Archbishop of Canterbury and his family, as well as central office for the Archbishop’s national and international ministry.

The Guard Room which has its origins as the Great Chamber in medieval times, this was where the Archbishop would receive honored guests, visiting dignitaries, and receive petitions from people from every walk of life, hosted the 2 day conference on Christians in the Holy Land.

 The conference program covered the following milestones

  • Introductions by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, followed by His Beatitude Patriarch

Fouad Twal and the Anglican Bishop inJerusalemSuheil Dawani;

  • Diverse youth voices were heard from a number of Christians living in the Holy

Land in diverse circumstances;

  • Reflections expressed from participants who maintain a close interest in the situation of Christians in the Holy Land, including Jewish and Muslim friends, living both in theHoly Landand in other parts of the world;
  • A full plenary session engaged upon the current situation of the Christian communities in theHoly Land; in particular the most pressing challenges which they face? What are the implications for Christians in the West and for others including policy makers?
  • Addresses by Lord Howell Minister of state at the foreign office, Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (representing the Holy See), John Dalli EU Commissioner (representing President Barosso) and László T_kés, Vice-President European Parliament.
  • Highlights upon why the situation of Christians in theHoly Landraises issues of concern both in the immediate region, and further afield: issues that are of significance and legitimate concern to people of all faiths and political persuasions.
  • What change can be expected in the coming period? What practical steps could be taken, especially by participants themselves and their networks, to help to improve the lives of ordinary Christians in theHoly Landand to counter the trend towards emigration? (Discussion in smaller groups followed by a plenary session in which feedback will be pooled and final conclusions reached).

The conference addressed the issues with their root causes rather than symptoms. It was obvious that the sponsors were very much concerned, committed and determined to making a difference and expressed a high sense of solidarity to Christians in theHoly Land.

Contextual challenges were highly visible throughout deliberations and reflections, with strong emphasis towards what change do we want to realize and HOW?

Although deliberations were cause oriented, with a strong exposure of the human face and sufferings endured throughout this long historic conflict, yet there were a great deal of emphasis towards sustaining Christian presence as a contribution to civil society that is pluralist, democratic and free where ALL can enjoy the fruits of peace for both people sharing the Holy Land for the three monotheistic faiths.

The conference broke out into eight working groups to discuss the WHAT and HOW can we be of help towards specific thematic approaches. Later the committees shared their input with the conference.

The forum natures of representation are very diverse and as individuals are very active and greatly structured, effective and highly influential.  The conference has tremendous potentials that can be tapped upon and make a difference in peoples’ lives, if properly invested in a strategic approach.

In my opinion there were diverse issues highlighted and some were very practical with concrete approaches that would result into immediate tangible results that can be realized.

The two day conference was excellently organized and program went like “Big Ben” and outcomes are very promising. The outcomes of the conference were entrusted in the hands of Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols. Unfortunately, no task force or follow-up committee was entrusted with the responsibility to put wheels on this very important engine. 

Ramzi Zananiri  



On the Day of Veneration of the Cross, Sunday the 14th / 27th of March 2011, after the Holy Liturgy at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, accompanied by Archdeacon Fr. Athanasios, departed for a two day private visit to Ukraine.  His Beatitude was invited by the Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia in order to deliver a lecture as the main speaker at the international conference “World religions and civil societies united against hatred and extremism” convened in Kiev on the 28th and  29th of March 2011. The invitation extended to His Beatitude by the founder of the aforementioned Institute, Mr. Oleksandr Feldman MP, is as follows (please access the Universal Remote Locator [URL]: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2011/02/21/1227/ ).

The lecture delivered by His Beatitude is as follows (please access the Universal Remote Locator [URL]: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2011/03/28/1220/ ).

Any interested party may find details regarding this particular Conference in the article by Mr. Jonah Mandel published in the newspaper “The Jerusalem Post” on Wednesday, March 30th 2011 (please access the Universal Remote Locators [URLs]:

https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2011/03/30/1232/ http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=214368 ).

Chief Secretary’s Office.



Kiev, February 21, 2011

His Most Godly Beatitude, the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine Theophilus III

Your Beatitude,

In a world where hatred and extremism are making gains every day, it is essential for two major forces to join together to explore ways to counter these dangerous trends. In this spirit, we are pleased to invite your participation in Kiev, Ukraine on March 28-29, 2011 to an international conference “World religions and civil societies united against hatred and extremism” convened by the Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia.

We expect hundreds representatives of the major faiths and ethnic groups, officials and non-governmental organizations alike, to join us. We would be honored to count you amongst us at this forum. In fact, we would like to offer you a keynote speaking position at the conference.

The goal of the conference is for major religions and civil societies to explore common cause in the urgent fight against the 21st century’s most alarming threats: extremism, hatred, intolerance, anti-Semitism, xenophobia. Though robust debate and discussion we will formulate the best practices and recommendations for states and governments to counteract the shameful continued existence and growth of hatred and intolerance.

We respectfully request your confirmation in Kiev


Most sincerely,


Oleksandr Feldman, MP

Founder, Institute of Human Rights, Prevention of Xenophobia and Extremism.


December 29, 2010

On Wednesday, December 16th / 29th 2010, the Leaders of the Christian Churches of the Holy Land visited the Presidential Mansion of the State of Israel on the occasion of the New Year, as has been custom during the last few decades. This visit initially included a reception and, later, a ceremony that comprised the performance of fine musical compositions by the musician Mr. Yair Dalal from Bagdad. Following that a ceremony was held during which the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, greeted and welcomed the Leaders of the Christian Churches and their escorts, Archpriests, Priests and laymen and wished  them and  their Communities a peaceful and blessed New secular year 2011.

Specifically he said: «I am happy about your response to the invitation for this event.  For us, the state of Israel, each person or religious institution is free to believe in all things of his, her or its own choice.  We have a common Fatherin Godand common heavens in the skies, therefore it is the duty of the religions, irrespective of their differences, to bring peace to the world just as it is the duty of the politicians.

The peace process is difficult; however, peace is a dire necessity.  I think that we have no other choice because we live in an era of high technology particularly regarding weapons.  Please allow me to caution that time is running out.  Palestinians are preparing to establish their own state.  The wiser means towards peace is to desire the progress of your adversary.  The better your adversary, the better it is to make peace with him.  Additionally, the necessity of peace is more imperative  for the reason that we have moved from the war on the battlefields, as was most often the case in the past, and have entered the era of the terrorist phenomenon  which, in order to confront it, requires the cooperation of many civil and religious entities..  We, the state of Israel,  are preparing ourselves for the ‘two states’ solution, in which you, the religious leaders, will most likely assume a very important role.  Please pray for peace to our one Father and God.  I wish for you and  your Communities that the new year of 2011 will be a year of peace, prayer, understanding, hope, cooperation, progress and success».

After that, His Beatitude The Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III was invited to speak on behalf of the leaders of all the Churches of the Holy Land that were present. His speech, in English, is as follows (please access URL https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2010/12/29/1093/ )

Whereupon the event, on the occasion of the new secular year 2011 held at the Presidential Mansion, ended.

Chief Secretary’s Office.



Upon taking office, the new American Consul, Mr. Daniel Rubstein, visited  His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III on Tuesday the 15th/28th of September, 2010.

His Beatitude welcomed the new Consul of the U.S.A. and wished him a successful career in his new office.

Within the framework of this visit, an interesting discussion took place regarding the large number of pilgrims that recently visited the Holy Lands: firstly on the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God and secondly on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Also discussed was the way in which these pilgrims affect peace as well as the economic situation in the Holy Land.

Further discussions included the Patriarchate’s history in the Holy Land from the first day it was established, its smooth relations with the Muslims since 638 AC, and its religious, cultural, peacekeeping and social work in the Patriarchate’s ecclesiastic domain that is in the following four areas of political jurisdiction: Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority and Qatar, which the Patriarchate recently took the initiative to erect a church, thus opening the way for further Christian Churches.

Another topic of discussion was the Patriarchate’s educational work which has been supported primarily by the U.S.A. i.e. it was financed by the U.S. Aid grant.

Finally, in view of the Patriarchate’s participation in the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, the discussion moved around the Patriarchate’s contribution to the peacekeeping process in the Middle East.

His Beatitude offered the Consul the publication by Professor Dr. Demitrakopoulos entitled ‘The Site of The Baptism of Our Lord on the River Jordan’, Professor. Votokopoulos’ book on the Byzantine manuscripts of the Patriarchate and the Medal commemorating 2000 years of Christianity.

Chief-Secretary’s Office.


Upon the initiative and invitation of His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi of Jordan, a Seminar took place on Friday, the 11th/24th of September 2010, at the Conference Centre at the site of the Baptism of our Lord on the Jordan River.

Attending this Seminar were His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, Muslim theologians and academic theologians from Germany as well as the General Secretary of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, Mr. Trond Bukkeviq.

At the Seminar issues were discussed regarding the protection of the environment generally, as the creation of God, and specifically on the issue of protecting the environment around the Jordan River, where human intervention is necessary.

On the same evening, His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi hosted a dinner at the prince’s palace in honour of the invited participants of the Seminar. His Beatitude offered the Prince a gift of the publication by the notable Professor Dr. Demitrakopoulos entitled ‘The Site of The Baptism of Our Lord on the River Jordan’.

Chief Secretary’s Office.


On Monday, the 7th / 20th of September 2010, a meeting of the representatives of the Council of  Religious Institutions of the Holy Land took place at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.

As it is known, this Council was created in 2005 and those participating are the Heads of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land, representatives of the Jewish Rabbinate of Israel as well as the Islamic representatives from the Palestinian Authority.  The goal and purpose of this Council is the creation of an atmosphere of religious coexistence in the Holy Land and a contribution towards  the solution of the political problem between Israelis and Palestinians and towards the maintenance of the religious status quo of Jerusalem.

At that meeting, on Monday, the 7th / 20th of September 2010, the following participated: from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III and the Elder Chief Secretary His Eminence Aristarchos Archbishop of Constantina; from the Armenians the Archbishop His Eminence Aris Servanian; from the Anglican Church in Jerusalem the Archbishop His Eminence Souhel Dawani; from the Roman Catholic Church, father Mandros Peter and the former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Eminence  Michel Sabah; from the Rabbinate, Rabbi David Rozen and the General Secretary of the Chief Rabbinate Mr. Odet Weiner; and finally, representing the Islamic Faith Mr. Salah Zouhaika.

During this meeting a briefing took place given by the General Secretary of the Council Mr. Trond Bakkeviq regarding all the pacification activities of the Council.  A particular update was made regarding the progress of work done towards the preparation of school handbooks for each religious and/or ethnic entity, Israeli and Palestinian, reflecting scientific objectivity without any religious or ethnic prejudice or bias, so that they would support the creation of a tolerant and conciliatory climatewhich is the prerequisite for the religious and/or ethnic coexistence in Jerusalem primarily and in the Holy Land in general.

The discussion of a topic that was on the Council Agenda, that of the excavations, was postponed for a more appropriate time and after more extensive preparation by the Council due to its sensitivity with regard to religious places.

Furthermore the topic of the Council’s participation in the ongoing negotiations regarding the political problem was discussed.  Regarding the process and the extent of this participation in these negotiations no answer was given because the method of participation is not known.  Certainly, this participation will not have a political character, but an ancillary one with regard to religious topics and other topics that preoccupy the Religious Communities.

The next meeting for all participants in  this session of the Council was set for the 2nd of December 2010.

Chief Secretary’s Office.


Bethlehem, Palestine, 25-31 May 2010


In preparation for the 15th session of the International Joint Lutheran-Orthodox Commission, the Preparatory Committee met in Bethlehem, Palestine, 25-31 May 2010, under the auspices of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. This meeting continued the new phase in the Commission’s theological work begun in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2009.

At its 14th plenary meeting in Paphos, Cyprus, in 2008, the Commission decided to continue its work to “the Mystery of the Church” by focusing on “the Nature and Attributes of the Church” in 2009 and on “the Mission of the Church in 2010. The meeting in Palestine was to explore this second subject and to prepare a draft of a Common Statement on the topic for consideration at the next plenary session.

The meeting was chaired by the Co-Presidents H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima, Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Bishop Dr Donald McCoid, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was represented by Bishop Dr Manas Buthelezi, South Africa; Revd Dr Stephanie Dietrich, Norway; Dekan Klaus Schwarz, Germany; Revd Prof. Dr Risto Saarinen, Finland (unable to come); Revd Prof. Dr Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, Institute for Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg, France (Consultant); and Prof. Dr Kathryn L. Johnson, LWF, Geneva, Switzerland (Co-Secretary). From the Orthodox Churches the members were H.E. Dr Metropolitan Makarios of Kenya, (Patriarchate of Alexandria, unable to come); the V. Revd Protopresbyter Prof. Dr. George Dion Dragas (Patriarchate of Jerusalem); the V. Revd Archimandrite Dr Cyril Hovorun (Patriarchate of Moscow); the V. Revd Prof. Dr Viorel Ionita (Patriarchate of Romania); Prof. Dr Christos Voulgaris (Church of Greece), and the Revd Deacon Theodoros Meimaris, Ecumenical Patriarchate (Co-Secretary).

The Committee discussed its topic with the help of papers prepared by Revd Stephanie Dietrich, Dekan Klaus Schwarz, H.E. Metropolitan Makarios, V. Revd Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun and V. Revd Viorel Ionita.

Discussion of these papers identified broad areas of agreement between the two traditions on the subject of mission and also a number of differences and open questions. A Statement was drafted which will help the Joint Plenary meeting in 2011.  In this draft paper the Committee discussed the various aspects of mission, from a Lutheran and an Orthodox understanding, always based upon their traditions and ecclesiastical and doctrinal teachings. Subjects examined in the Statement include “God’s Mission and the Church’s Mission,” “Mission and the Unity of the Church,” Mission as Witness (Martyria) and Proclamation,” “Mission and Diakonia,” “and “The Problems of Proselytism and Imperialism.”

The members met in Bethlehem, the very place of Jesus Christ’s birth in Holy Land. At the opening session, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, His Beatitude Theophilos III of Jerusalem addressed the Committee, very warmly welcoming the participants and bestowing upon them the patriarchal blessing and wish for a very successful outcome results. He said:

It is significant that, in the course of these particular deliberations, you have made your first pilgrimage as a Joint Commission to the land in which the Church was first revealed, and just a few days after we have celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the “Paraclete,” the Spirit of Christ….As the oldest continuous institution in the Holy Land, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem takes seriously our vocation of diakonia both to all those, regardless of religious, ethnic or cultural origin, who make this region their home, as well as to all those, of whatever religious affiliation, who come here throughout the year as pilgrims. In this ministry of diakonia to humankind and for the sake of the unity of all Christians, we extend to you our appreciation and encouragement.

On behalf of the Committee, Metropolitan Gennadios and Bishop McCoid expressed to the Patriarch Theophilos their deep thanks and gratitude for his generous hospitality. They recognized that it is for all a special blessing to hold this meeting in the Holy Land and in Bethlehem in particular, a place where Christianity found its beginning in Christ’s Incarnation and birth. They also expressed their anxiety and sadness about the still unresolved political situation for the Palestinians, and for the wall which still exists, separating peoples and nations. The Committee affirmed the Patriarch’s observation that the hope is in the Holy Land to be two states with three hearts and inspirations, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

On the final day, Bishop Manib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, the LWF member church in the Middle East, warmly welcomed the members of the Committee to the Holy Land. He spoke about his vision for the mission of the Church in this place. He highlighted three aspects: the importance of education as a form of resistance to the growing attractions of extremism; the role of ecumenical cooperation for Christian communities who live in the midst of Jews and Muslims; and the centrality of justice.  He urged the group to support the strength of groups like the Middle East Council of Churches in their efforts for reconciliation. His remarks were received with warm appreciation by the Committee.

Through a number of visits the Committee was able to learn about the continuing faithful witness (martyria) of Christian communities in the Holy Land. In Bethlehem, the participants paid a visit to the Orthodox Monastery of the Basilica of Nativity of Christ and were generously received by the Abbot H.E. Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan. On Friday 28 May the Commission attended a Divine Liturgy in the place of the Nativity Church co-celebrated by Metropolitan Gennadios and Archbishop Theophylaktos, with the other Orthodox members. They also visited the International Center of Bethlehem, whose “Lutheran-based ecumenically-oriented” mission is to provide help and assistance in difficult circumstances through projects in the arts, education, and health and wellness.|

On the way to Jerusalem, the Commission visited the Monasteries of Saint Savva the Sanctified, of Saint Theodosios the Blessed, and of the Magi. In Jerusalem they visited sites on the Mount of Olives, the Holy Sion, and other holy sites. On Sunday the members attended the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The Joint Commission will be hosted 31 May – 7 June 2011 by the Lutheran World Federation. At this meeting the Committee will celebrate its 30th anniversary since its beginning.

Bethlehem, Palestine, 29 May 2010.