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A MESSAGE OF GREETINGS TO THE MIDDLE EAST EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.

A MESSAGE OF GREETINGS TO THE SECRETARY GENERAL AND THE PRESIDENTS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES AT THEIR MEETING IN DAMASCUS.

His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem

22 September 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and We send our prayers and blessing for your meeting in Damascus. We apologize for not being able to be with you ourselves, but the demands of other commitments keep us away. We would like first & foremost to express Our thankfulness and appreciation to Our Brother, His Beatitude Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Kyrios Ignatios the forth, for hosting Our executive Committee meeting here in Sydanaya.  We are happy, however, to send Our delegation, which consists of His Eminence Archbishop Dorotheos of Avela, Father Ibrahim Dabour, and Mrs. Wafa’ Ksous, who have Our confidence.

We rejoice in the good work for the future of the MECC that was accomplished recently in Cyprus, and We express Our gratitude to His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus for his welcome and encouragement. We remain firm in our commitment to the decisions that were made at the meeting of the Executive Committee in Amman, and We support the determination that resulted from the meeting of the Presidents of the Christian families last week in Nicosia.

We hope and pray that all our member Churches will join in these sincere efforts to reconfigure our Council for the common benefit both of the Christian population of the Middle East and the Holy Land and to ensure that our Christian voice is heard. It is time for us to overcome our misunderstandings and move ahead in the strength of our common purpose, especially at this critical time in the history of our region. Let us grasp the momentum and advance the Council’s mission.

Once again We re-affirm the commitment of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to the significance and mission of our Council, which is important not only for the co-operation of the Churches in the region, but for the ongoing well-being and security of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

THEOPHILOS IIIPATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM




THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM IS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE AMIDST THESE TIMES OF MISFORTUNE.

His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III has sent the following letter to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, His Excellency Mr. Dmitri Medvedev President of the Russian Federation and to His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation expressing the Patriarchate’s solidarity with the Russian people amidst these tragic times of misfortune emanating from the ecological damage and catastrophes in the historical and beautiful city of Moscow and its environs, due to the many raging fires:

‘We follow with deep sorrow and great anxiety the loss of valuable lives of our fellow men, the ecological damage and catastrophes in the historical and beautiful city of Moscow and its environs, due to the many raging fires.

Participating in this tribulation of the peaceful citizens of Moscow, We have prayed and continue to pray in the Holy Tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ and on the Holy Calvary for the cessation of the fires by dew and rain to be sent from our merciful God above; for proper cleansing of the air in the atmosphere of the city of Moscow, for the recreation of its inhabitants and for the souls of the victims of the fire to be at rest.

Thus, We wish for Your honoured Excellency the Grace of the Life-giving Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ to successfully overcome this tribulation and to restore the health and welfare of the pious Russian people, and remain,

With fervent prayers to Our Lord,

THEOPHILOS III

PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM




MESSAGE TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

Mr.Guirguis Saleh

Secretary General of MECC,

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We send you our greetings in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Holy City of Jerusalem. We have been kept up to date with the work of the Middle East Council of Churches, and we are pleased that our delegate, Archbishop of Abela Mr. Dorotheos, is able to represent us at this meeting of the Executive Committee.

We remain committed to the stated purposes and goals of the mission of the Middle East Council of Churches. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is always ready to work in collaboration with all the people of good will for the well-being of our region, and we wish especially to acknowledge the efforts of our fellow Christians from other Churches and Christian communities in this regard. Such collaboration represents for us that respectful co-existence of people of different religious, cultural and ethnic identities that we believe is essential for the integrity of the life of the Middle East.

However, our concern about the present state of affairs in the Middle East Council of Churches continues. We wish respectfully to remind the Executive Committee of the resolutions of the 9thh General Assembly of the MECC in Paphos, Cyprus, which was held from 27 to 30 November 2007. It was at this meeting that the need for re-structuring the organization was acknowledged.

Subsequently, the MECC has admitted a serious financial crisis, a crisis that is being felt by many organizations around the world. At later meetings of the Executive Committee in Beirut and Kykkos, although the deepening crisis was known, no action was taken.

We note with sadness a distinct lack of progress in setting the MECC on the firm footing that was articulated in Paphos. Instead, the financial crisis has deepened.

We acknowledge with gratitude the hard work of many in the MECC to ensure that the Council is faithful to its goals and mission, and we understand the many challenges that faces the Council in its work. It is all the more important in our view that the Council remains absolutely committed to its vision and mission.

Therefore with great reluctance we are forced to admit that we lack confidence in the current Secretariat Staff and the SCAF of the MECC, and it seems to us that the following two courses of action are the only courses of action now open to the MECC in order to move forward:

  1. Given the deepening crisis and the clear lack of progress in re-structuring the organization, and given the inability of the present Secretariat Staff and SCAF both to acknowledge this publicly and to propose effective solutions, it would seem that the honorable next course of action would be for the current Secretariat and SCAF Staff to submit their resignations, and for the Council to elect and appoint a new body of Secretariat Staff and SCAF with the clear mandate to execute a strategic plan that will accomplish the goals set at the 9th general assembly in 2007 as well as ensure the financial solvency of MECC and
  2. that the newly elected and appointed secretariat Staff and SCAF will provide to member Churches an open strategic plan to set the MECC on its proper course. With an expectation of regular reports and accountability to member Churches.

We realize that these may be difficult recommendations for some to hear, but we articulate them out of deep concern for the MECC itself. If we are not ready and prepared to proceed along these lines with firm clear and focused action then there is no likelihood that the MECC can accomplish the good work that lies at the heart of its urgent mission to the peoples of our region who so desperately need the leadership of the Churches in establishing peace, reconciliation and a proper co-existence of all.

We pray for God’s blessing upon your work during this meeting, and we urge you to take this necessary action for the future of the MECC.

Theophilos III

Patriarch of Jerusalem

President for the Eastern Orthodox Churches of MECC.




MESSAGE OF HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS III ON THE CHRISTMAS OF 2008

Let us now go even unto Bethlehem

and see this thing which is come to pass,

which the Lord

hath made known unto us (Luke 2:15)

The Church, the body of Christ, which perpetuates His salvific work on earth, to day cries out again to all the people, to those who are near and to those who are afar, to her members as well as the whole world, the saving truth.

It proclaims the fact that the God of our fathers, who in the beginning created man out of love, in His image and likeness, without tolerating the distortion of His image that occurred with the fall, recreated him at the end of times. He recreated and reborn His creature in a way that surpasses human understanding and strength. God achieved this with the incarnation and becoming man of His Only Son through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. “When the time arrived, God sent His Son, who was born of a woman and under the law” (Gal. 4:4). God proceeded in the restoration of man by making man one with Himself. God, Himself became in the person of Jesus Christ the same as His creature, namely man, with all the irreproachable human passions. “He descended to human nature, without losing His attribute that He is God, receiving the human not as foreign, but as truly His”, according to Saint Kyrillos of Alexandria (On king Theodosios, PG 76, 1169D). God appeared in the flesh at a specific time in history. “He came to the world, as man”, without however by this losing His divine glory, by His Godbearing Father. (On the true faith, PG 76, 1177). He was born as man, during the time of emperor Caesar Augustus, in Bethlehem of Judea.

This mystery that transcends all understanding was realized far from all evil of this world. Christ “secretly was born in the cave”, not powerfully and by force, without possessing any rule or authority, but with baby frailty and weakness, with humility and purity. He was revealed in the cave to pure and clean souls that could apprehend Him and embrace Him. He was visibly revealed first to the Virgin Mary, who admired and was astonished, seeing that in her was performed what the angel had foretold her in Nazareth. She was first to see the Invisible (Lord) lying in the manger and wrap Him in swaddling clothes, Him who cannot be contained. Joseph, her husband, is accompanying the Virgin and the child to Egypt. Simple in heart shepherds at the adjacent village, living in the open, are guided by the angels who sing in heaven the “Glory in the highest”, and passing by Bethlehem, they see the baby wrapped and lying in the manger. The Magi coming from the East with gifts, prostrate with reverence before the newly born king.

From these faithful eye witnesses and deacons, this mystery is rendered to the Church. And first to this Church, which guards with the Hagiotaphitic Brotherhood the Holy Places that received the mystery of the divine revelation. This Church erected magnificent and beautiful churches at the Most Holy Shrines, such as the Constantinian and Justinian Basilica of the Greek Orthodox over the Divine Cave. In her the Christians of the Holy Land and all pious pilgrims who flock from the ends of the world, are sanctified through the ages. In her their identity is formed, the ethos of love, of peace, of reconciliation and their harmonious cohabitation with the followers of other religions at the Holy Land. From this Church and from this place the evangelical salvific truth emanated to the whole world.

The fact of the divine kenosis and condescension the Church cries out today for some 2000 years in remembrance of the Birth of Christ. It proclaims that Christ “emptied” Himself by assuming the form of servant (Phil 2:7), so that man would not remain on earth in his fall, but ascend to heaven. This kenosis starting with the incarnation and through the flesh birth of the Son of God, extends to the Cross and the tomb, from where resurrection occurred.

This divine and philanthropic way, the Church displays as valuable treasure of the truth, as an infallible compass of life even for today’s man. She shares with him her experience and certainty that the answer to the question on the matter of life and the resolution of human problems is found in the adoption and application of the philanthropic attitude of life, that was revealed by Christ. That the consequence of the denial of the message of God by the people and of their departure from God is today obvious in humanity as never before. The raging wars, the military and terrorist violence, the destructive rage of the irrational which is unlawfully and unjustly manifested against simple and innocent people, the unequal distribution of physical and social goods and the resulting looming economic crisis, which nations and banks anxiously try to contain.

From this Sacred Cave, and the bosom of the Mother of the Churches, we bless with Patriarchal and Paternal blessings the members of this flock, which have been entrusted to us, at the Holy Land and everywhere and prompt them, to embrace Christ, who became man in the flesh and have Him as life’s guide and we direct a plea to the powerful of the world to adopt as their goal the maintenance of peace and justice without force, and the freedom and wellbeing of the people.

In the Holy City of Bethlehem, Christmas 2008.

Ardent blesser in the Lord,

Theophilos 3rd

Patriarch of Jerusalem




BLESSING OF HIS BEATITUDE THEOPHILOS III, PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM, TO VISITORS OF THE PATRIARCHATE’S NEWS GATE

To the Readers

Beloved in the Lord Children of Our Mediocrity,

The Heritage, on the one hand, of the Most Sacred Shrines, those visible evidence of the presence on earth of the incarnate and salvific Economy of the Son and Word of God, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and, on the other hand, the Ecclesiastic Community in the Holy Land, the continuation of the ancient Judeo-Christian Community, the Church of Jerusalem and of Palestine, are the pride of our Patriarchate, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, pride which the Hagiotaphitic Brotherhood (Brotherhood of the Sepulcher) and the indigenous flock have guarded for many centuries, with sacrifices of blood, ever pouring sweat and untold amounts of money.

This Heritage of the Holy Lands of Grace which fills the pilgrims flocking from the ends of the world, with the holy spiritual springs of contrition, repentance, consciousness and love of Christ, pouring of the Holy Spirit, from the deified Flesh of Christ, this Heritage is deservedly presented to people by the Church of Jerusalem, in every way and with full vigour, towards sanctification and salvation. The Church of Jerusalem could not find more suitable a way towards this end than the presentation in the World Wide Web, with which it also hopes not only to acquaint the faithful with its largely unknown history and various struggles in the Holy Land, sanctify the senses of the spectators and the rational aspect of their soul through the vision of the Holy Shrines and the narratives about them, but also to facilitate the arrival of pilgrims to the Holy Land and of all those willing to struggle together and help the Church of Jerusalem.

This website, fruit of unselfish effort and pious toil of friends and contributors of the Most Holy Sepulcher, the first official website of the Church of Jerusalem, will continuously be enriched, God willing, with information concerning every sector of our ecclesiastic life. The “aerial” electromagnetic data of contemporary technology, though inferior to the tangible writing with ink and paper, is capable however to likewise constitute a carrier of salvific concepts that lead to the uncreated deliverance in Christ.

May the Grace and Tradition of the Holy Lands, the treasure of the Hagiotaphites, be to all a steady guide of Orthodox Faith and Life. According to the early Jerusalemite Monks, God’s Holy City of Jerusalem is “the eye and beacon of the whole world, having received the word of the Gospel in keeping with the prophetic saying, that from Sion the law shall come out, and the word of the Lord shall come out of Jerusalem” and her inhabitants are “as if they touch the truth every day with their own hands through these Venerable Landmarks, in which the mystery of the incarnation of the great God our Saviour was performed”[i]. Invoking the grace of these Venerable Lands on all of you, we bestow upon you Our Paternal wishes and Patriarchal blessings.

In the Holy City of Jerusalem, in the month of May, of the Saviour’s year 2007.
Ardently blesser in the Lord

Theophilos ΙΙΙ
Patriarch of Jerusalem


[i] Cyril of Skythopolis, The Life of Our Father, Hosios Savvas 57.Ed. Schwartz Editions, Kyrillos von Skythopolis, Hinrichs Verlag, Leipzig 1939, p. 154.