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FESTIVE GREETING OF H.B. PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS AT THE NEW YEAR RECEPTION HOSTED BY THE MAYOR OF JERUSALEM.

Jerusalem, 23 January 2014

Mr Mayor,

Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Fellow Leaders of the Jewish and Muslim Communities,

Respected Members of the Civic Authorities and the Diplomatic Community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Christian Churches and Communities of the Holy Land, and especially of our beloved Jerusalem, we greet you, Mr. Mayor, in this festive New Year season with the words of the Psalmist:

Praise is due to you, Ο God… to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem, Ο you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come… You crown the year with your bounty, (Ps 64:1-3, 1 2)

As we celebrate this New Year – the crown of the year – we do so fully aware of the sacredness of Jerusalem. This is God’s holy dwelling-place, and the witness of the three great Abrahamic faiths is a testament to this sacred history. For millennia, in this Holy Land God has conversed with humanity, and God’s holiness has been made accessible to his human creatures.

Yet this Holy City is not just a witness to the past. Jerusalem has a present, living identity that leads the human family to the future. For Jerusalem is the embodiment of the future hope of humanity, a sign to us now of our common destiny in God. Jerusalem, the foundation of peace, is the embodiment of the words of the Psalmist, to you all flesh shall come.

We live in a world that increasingly denies or avoids realities of ultimate significance. We no longer view our life in terms of eternity in relation to God, or in terms of the fulfillment of all creation in God, which we call the eschaton. But, it is precisely in this fulfillment of the creation in God’s eternal life that peace, justice, and integrity find their true meaning. Jerusalem is the tangible expression to us of this great desire of creation to fulfillment in God.  As Saint Paul says:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now. For in hope we are saved. (Rom. 8:22,24)

History cannot avoid judgment. In human terms alone we have experienced this time and again, as we see humanity’s inhumanity continue to break out forcibly in our region and around the world. Even this Holy City has been washed in the blood of the Prophets and of Jesus Christ. War, poverty, genocide, the suffering of children, the persecution of the innocent, the denial of human dignity – all this reminds us of the failing of the human family to live up to our divine image as the sons and daughters of the One God, who are descended from our common ancestors, and who are destined for a new future that we are called to build with divine inspiration for the sake of all.

Our spiritual mission as the Christian Churches and Communities of the Holy Land is to maintain the identity of Jerusalem as God’s dwelling-place. For we are aware that Jerusalem is the principal focus that brings together the faithful of the three Abrahamic traditions, and all people of good will, in an encounter with that God-given peace and reconciliation is possible for all those who aspire to it.

 We who make up the colourful mosaic of this unique City, which is held sacred in all our Holy Books and in our traditions of worship, cherish both the physical reality of the City as well as its spiritual significance. For the earthly Jerusalem always points us to the heavenly Jerusalem, and in this regard we recall the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines… And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples… he will swallow up death forever… It will be said on that day. Lo, this is our God; We have waited for him, so that he might save us… let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.

(Is. 25:6-1 0)

This divine impulse continues to inspire the countless pilgrims who come to the Holy Land and to Jerusalem every year – indeed even every day. We all acknowledge that Jerusalem has a life-long impact on the hearts and minds of the many people who come here. The mystery of Jerusalem changes people’s minds, and opens their hearts to a new understanding of the power of faith in God.

As we celebrate this New Year – this crown of the year – let us all as people of goodwill of various faiths and confessions, re-commit ourselves to the heavenly truths of which our beloved City is the supreme earthly expression. Jerusalem is a beacon of light to a turbulent world that summons all humankind to the inextinguishable Light of God. To this one, everlasting Light that the darkness cannot overcome are we all on pilgrimage. As Saint Matthew says in his Gospel, echoing the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

…the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.

(Mt. 4:1 6; cf. Is. 9:1-2)

Again, on behalf of the Christian Churches and Communities of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, we wish you, Mr. Mayor, and your colleagues, every success in your responsibilities, and we wish you a very blessed and peaceful New Year.Thank you”.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III,

Patriarch of Jerusalem.




THE FEAST OF THE HOLY MONASTERY OF HOZEVA

On Tuesday the 8th/21st of January 2014, the feast of the Holy Monastery of Hozeva was celebrated.

The Monastery is one of the most ancient in Palestine; it lies on the slope of the torrent of Horrath which, passing through Jericho, flows into the Dead Sea.

On the footsteps of the first ascetics, Promon, Aias, Zenon and Yannaios, the Monastery had distinguished Hegoumens, i.e. St John the Bishop of Caesarea, Palestine who came here after abandoning his Episcopal duties in the fifth c., as well as St George the Cypriot, who in fact renovated the Monastery in the wake of the destructive Persian invasion in 614 AD.

It is to the name of these two saints, considered to be the Monastery’s proprietors, that the Monastery is dedicated, having survived several damages through a turbulent history. Remembered fondly as Hegoumens of the Monastery are – the late Archimandrite Amphilochios, its dedicated servant for more than thirty years; the late Archimandrite Antonios of Thessaloniki, killed when a wall of the Narthex collapsed during repairs; the late Archimandrite Germanos of Thessaloniki, murdered on his way to the Monastery by an unholy hand; the Hegoumen of Abba Gerasimus of the Jordan, Archimandrite f. Chrystostomos, who took over as Hegoumen for a transitional period of time after a rock had landed on the Monastery. Today, Archimandrite Constantinos is the Hegoumen, having joined the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood from the Church of Greece.

In this historical Monastery, which is greatly loved and very often visited by pilgrims, either Orthodox or not, both Christians and non Christians, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, was received warmly by the Hegoumen, Archimandrite Constantinos.

In his welcome speech, Archimandrite Constantinos referred to Sts Johns and George as “having given breath to the barren desert, given life to the area of the torrent of Horrath. The purpose and objective of their arrival to this consecrated site was their pure intention to cleanse themselves from passions.”

“Therefore”, the Hegoumen went on to say, “they became models to be emulated from that time to the present day; models of safe and successful sailing across the sea of life. Because only if man offers God his exclusive love, when he does everything there is to cleanse his heart, when he fervently wishes to communicate with God, only then shall he be given the evangelic: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5, 8).

At the conclusion of the Hegoumen’s speech, His Beatitude Theophilos led the commemoration of Sts John and George the Hozevites during a nocturnal vigil. Co-officiating were the Patriarchal Commissioner, His Eminence Isychios, Metropolitan of Kapitolias; the Elder Secretary-General, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina; and the Hegoumen, Archimandrite Constantinos. A crowd of pious Christians, monks and nuns, locals and pilgrims participated in the celebration.

To this pious congregation His Beatitude preached the Word of God in Greek, referring to the Epiphany of Christ in the Jordan river, through which He “vanquished the domain, the power of sin, investing within Himself our human nature with the new garment of imperishableness”.

“It is precisely this garment of the divine and sanctifying and unapproachable light”, His Beatitude added, “that Hosios Father George, hailing from Cyprus, had put on. Of the same garment of the divine light of the Holy Spirit we are called to become communicants and sharers”.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Patriarchal Retinue as well as the entire congregation were hosted to lunch at the monastery, after which His Beatitude left for Jerusalem.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/MPYI2p4CJDk




HIS BEATITUDE ADDRESS OF WELCOME TO HIS EXCELLENCY TRAIAN BASESCU THE PRESIDENT OF ROMANIA.

Jerusalem Patriarchate, 20 January 2014

 

Mr. President,

Respected Members of your Delegation,

Your Eminences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is a great honour for us to welcome you to the Holy Land and to our Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which is the Mother of all the Churches. Most especially we are pleased that you are here during this festive season in which the Church celebrates the Feasts of the Nativity and the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, the time of the revelation of the True Light that enlightens all peoples (cf. Lk 2:32). We welcome you as a pilgrim and as a faithful son of our Holy Orthodox Church, which has such deep roots in the history of your nation and people.

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the embodiment of our sacred history, and, as you know well, Your Excellency, the Patriarchate, together with the Brotherhood of the Holy Tomb, have been entrusted by Divine Providence from the earliest days of the Church with the spiritual mission to be guardians and servants of the Holy Places. In this way we understand that we do not represent ourselves alone, but the whole Orthodox world, and we rejoice that so many pilgrims come from your country for the deep refreshment of the soul that so many find here. Indeed as Orthodox Christians from Romania they are able to participate fully in the worship and religious festivals of the Holy Places.

Moreover, Jerusalem holds a unique place in the human imagination, and the Patriarchate ensures that all those who wish to have access to the Holy Places are able to do so, including many Jewish and Muslim pilgrims, in addition to Christians of many confessions.

This is the responsibility that is laid upon us because of our unique position in the Holy Land. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem enjoys the full respect and recognition of the three political authorities of this region – the State of Israel, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the State of Palestine – and this legal status is clear and safe-guarded. The Patriarchate serves as the representative leader of all the Christian communities of the Holy Land, and is the principal Christian institution that can speak on behalf of the unique integrity of the status of Jerusalem. In this important work we know that we can count on the support of the faithful of Romania.

On the occasion of your visit, Your Excellency, we recall with gratitude the close relationship that has long existed between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the people of Romania. It was in 1682 that our esteemed predecessor, Patriarch Dositheos, established the first printing press in any Orthodox country, publishing in the great cultural city of Laşi important theological and liturgical books. We are united by important bonds of faith and affection which we must always be careful to foster and deepen.

We wish you, Mr. President, every success in your mission to our region, and we ask you to convey to your beloved nation and people our Patriarchal greetings and blessing. And in recognition of the close historic and spiritual relationship between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Romania, we wish to bestow upon you the decoration of the Great Cross of the Holy Tomb.

We thank you for your visit.

 

His Beatitude

  THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem

 




THE PRESIDENT OF ROMANIA VISITS THE PATRIARCHATE

On the 7th/20th of January 2014, the day after the feast of Theophany, the President of Romania, His Excellency Mr Traian Basescu, on a visit to the state of Israel, visited the Patriarchate accompanied by members of the Romanian Government and by the Romanian Ambassador to Israel, Mrs Andreea Păstârnac.

The Romanian President and his retinue were received by His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Hagiotaphite Fathers. In His welcoming address to the President, His Beatitude spoke in English, see link: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2014/01/20/4001

and decorated him with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher for the enhancement of his pious disposition toward the Holy Sepulcher, also offering him a fine icon of Theotokos Jerusalemite.

Touched, the President offered His Beatitude a beautiful icon of the Nativity of Christ, crafted in an Orthodox Monastery of Romania, thanking Him for the honour bestowed upon him as a representative of the Romanian people, consisting of Orthodox faithful by 90%, and having close ties to the Orthodox Church.

“In the aftermath of the communist regime”, Mr Basescu said, “the state of Romania is trying to reestablish its relations with the Church of Romania, which is considered its integral part”.

Extending his thanks to His Beatitude over the manner in which He represents Christians in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem, the President kindly asked that the Church of Jerusalem look favourably on the as yet unresolved problem between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Patriarchate of Romania.

In His response, His Beatitude said that “we have already reached a preparatory agreement, which we expect to be signed by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania”. He went on to add that “We have decided in favour of establishing closer ties between the two Churches and have therefore sent a Hagiotaphite student, now Archimandrite Dositheos, to study in Romania with a scholarship”.

His Excellency the President, accompanied by His Beatitude and members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, amid ringing bells, proceeded to venerate at the Church of the Resurrection, the Holy Sepulcher, the Katholikon and Sacristy of the Church of the Resurrection, where he was received by the Hegoumen, the Elder Sacristan of the Holy Sepulcher, His Eminence Isidoros, Archbishop of Hierapolis, in the presence of Templar Fathers. There, he was also offered an icon of the Aedicula of the Holy Sepulcher.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/kPQ0opNl5_k




H.B. PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS III ADDRESS TO THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY ON THE OCCASION OF THEIR CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION.

Jerusalem, 20 January 2014

Your Beatitude,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Members of the Brotherhood of Saint James, Dear Brothers,

We greet you with congratulations on the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity, according to the Armenian calendar, and we proclaim with you the great words of Saint John,

 The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).

As your celebration of the Nativity and our celebration of the Theophany coincide, we recognize that this is indeed one and the same feast, the feast of the True Light that enlightens all people (cf. Lk 2:32).

We extend to you, Your Beatitude, and to the whole Brotherhood of Saint James, our special greeting on this Christmas in your ministry as Armenian Patriarch and the spiritual father of the Armenian community in the Holy Land.

It has been by God’s grace and help that, despite the turbulent affairs of the world and our region, the celebrations of this holy season have been uneventful and as a consequence they have been of genuine spiritual refreshment to our people. This sends a message near and far that the new-born Christ is the only sure ground for hope, justice, and peace. When we as the Churches of the Holy Land celebrate the great feasts of the events of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, we make clear the bright hope of God to all those who live in desperation around the world.

This is our sacred, spiritual mission that we must always keep before us as we endeavor to maintain our co-operation. We cannot underestimate the importance of this. In this way we strengthen our role in shaping the developments of this Holy City and of our beloved Holy Land.

In the spirit of this season, we wish to take this opportunity, Your Beatitude, to express to you, to your brother bishops, to the members of the Brotherhood of Saint James both here in Jerusalem and in other parts of the world, and to the Armenian community of the Holy Land, our Christmas wishes.

And we wish for you, Your Beatitude, health and strength for your ministry, and a peaceful and spiritually fruitful New Year.

Thank you.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem.




ADDRESS OF H.B. THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR OF JERICHO ON THE OCCASION OF THEOPHANY

Jericho, the 5th/18th of January 2014.

Your Excellency, the Governor of Jericho,

Your Eminences,

Your Excellency, the Consul-General of Greece,

The Holy Land and especially the Land of the very ancient city of Jericho, with its sacred river Jordan, is inextricably linked with the holy history, and specifically with the historical event of the Baptismal of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who founded and established the Mother of All Churches, namely the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of all Palestine.

The array of monasteries in the vicinity of Jericho and the river Jordan, as well as the Churches on sacred sites, bear testament to the Presence of God on earth on the one hand, and on the other hand to the revelation of the divine light, that is the Holy Spirit, on men. Furthermore, they are tangible evidence of the social and religious setting of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims, forged through the centuries by the great National and Religious Leaders, our predecessor, Patriarch Sophronios, and Khalif Omar ibn Khattab.

It is this very event that we celebrate today in your historical city, in order to share with you the joy and delight of the Universal feast of Holy Theophany.

And this we say because today’s feast celebrates the revelation of the divine light, the light of love, peace and justice that dawned on those living in the land of the shadow of death, (Matthew 4,16), the “powers of this dark world” according to the Apostle Paul.

It is this revelation of the divine and never-setting light of justice that we have come here to declare in prayer, through the ceremonious blessing of the waters of the river Jordan. We thank you for your brotherly welcome and hospitality, and profoundly wish that the divine light, the light of justice, shall reign on earth, especially in this Holy Land and on the Palestinian people. May health and power be offered to our dear President Mahmud Abbas Abu Mazen so that he may guide his people to the fervently desired complete independence and freedom.

Many happy returns.

Theophilos of Jerusalem.

 




CUTTING ST BASIL-PIE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On the evening of Monday the 31st of December, the last day of the year 2013/13th of January 2014, the custom of cutting St Basil-pie was observed at the Hall of the Patriarchate.

His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, led the ceremony that had as participants the Greek Consul-General to Jerusalem, Mr Georgios Zacharoudiakis and his associates, Hagiotaphite Fathers, Greeks hailing from the Greek Parish in Jerusalem, members of our Arab-speaking congregation in Jerusalem, and pilgrims.

To this distinguished guests, His Beatitude delivered an address on the dawn of the new year 2014. This is an excerpt from His address:

[…] The festive reception of the new year, which coincides with the Despotiki (of the Lord) Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is calling upon us to consider our works and deeds of the past year, and exclaim alongside the wise Paul: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3, 13-14).

It is precisely this principle, namely the movement towards a blessed life, living and behaving according to Christ, that we are called upon to set as our purpose at the beginning of the new year of Christ’s Virtue, where the domain of His eternal Kingdom will hopefully be blessed and glorified; Amen.

In Arabic, the address may be reached here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2014/01/13/3155

The ceremony was followed by the Apolytikion of the Circumcision of Christ and the Apolytikion of St Basil, at the end of which His Beatitude proceeded to cut St Basil-pie, wishing that the New Year 2014 be favourable and peaceful. The pie was distributed among the guests, who paid their respects and reciprocated wishes for a happy new year.

During the distribution of the pie, students at the Patriarchal School chanted the New Year’s Carols. They went on to sing the Carols to Hagiotaphite Fathers and the Greek Parish, and save the contributions they were generously offered by their hosts.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/jN2HfK7F938




CHRISTMAS ADDRESS OF H.B. PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS III TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE ARMENIANS.

Jerusalem, 9 of January 2014

Your Beatitude, Your Eminences,

Reverend Fathers and brothers of the Armenian Fraternity of Saint James,

“Christ is born; glorify Him. Christ is come from heaven; go and meet Him. Christ is on earth; arise to Him. Sing to the Lord, all you who dwell on earth; and in gladness, Ο you peoples, praise His

Birth. For He is glorified”

With this hymn of Saint Cosmas, the Church melodist, we greet you in this festive Christmas season, for indeed, Christ is come from heaven to be born in the cave of Bethlehem. Indeed, Christ is on earth, for He is waiting to be born in our cave, i.e. in our heart.

We praise Him, for once again this year we have gone to meet Him in His physical place of birth, where He was manifest into our human history in the cave of Bethlehem, marked by the magnificent Constantinian basilica, which continues to stand as a beacon of the divine light to the world. We also have gone to meet Him in the spiritual cave, i.e. the divine altar, for through Him we offered our humble gifts, i.e. a sacrifice of praise to God the Father; the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name (Heb. 13:15).

We glorify Him, for as Saint John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father”, (John 1:14).

It is precisely this glory of the begotten Son of God in which we now rejoice this Christmas season, especially in our contemporary world in which our fellow man is enduring injustice, persecution, starvation, displacement from their homelands and humiliation.

We, who are privileged to be servants and guardians of the Holy Land and its holy sites that bear witness to the sacred history, i.e. the divine oikonomia, and more specifically the history of salvation have been called by the Holy Spirit to be messengers of peace and reconciliation. For together with the angels we can “bring the good news of a great joy, which will come to all the people, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).

Your Beatitude, as we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Divine Epiphany in the Jordan River, and you also prepare to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, in the very cave of our Lord’s nativity, We, along with our Brotherhood of the Holy Tomb and our Rum Orthodox community, wish you from the bottom of our hearts, a Merry Christmas, a blessed holiday, and a peaceful new year.

“For he is our peace, and he came and evangelized peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:17), so that the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep our hearts and our minds in our newly born Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

Blessed Christmas and a happy new year. Thank you.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem




CHRISTMAS ADDRESS OF H.B. PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS TO ALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES, ON THE OCCASION OF THEIR VISIT TO THE ORTHODOX PATRIARCHATE.

Jerusalem, 9 of January 2014

Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).

It is this glory of the begotten Son of God in which we now rejoice at the time of this Christmas season. We have been blessed and privileged to celebrate God’s full manifestation into our human history in the very place where the Incarnation of the Divine Logos, i.e. the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, took place in the cave of Bethlehem, where the magnificent Constantinian basilica continues to stand as a beacon of the divine light since the early years of Christianity.

The city of Bethlehem, crowned by this basilica, has become the physical and spiritual symbol of God’s philanthropy, that is to say, of His peace and justice on earth and of course of hope to all men and all nations, especially to those who are enduring injustice, inequality, persecution, slavery, starvation, humiliation, displacement from their homelands, and from all contemporary Herods, that is, “all workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:27).

The Holy Ecumenical Church of God and particularly the local Church of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which are in fact the body of Christ, who is extended into the ages, bears witness to the Incarnate Hope and Justice that was born from the pure blood of the all blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos of Nazareth.

It is precisely this witness that the “Holy Jerusalem” i.e. the mother of all Churches, has been called by the Holy Spirit to evangelize, as Saint Paul says, “And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 9:30).

Dear brothers and sisters, our gathering today here at the Patriarchate adds to our celebration of the Christmas feast and the new year, as the Psalmist says, “Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant as for brothers to dwell together in unity,” [Ps. 132 (133):3]. For according to the Lord, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).

Furthermore, this Christmas celebration is also a reminder of our pastoral care and responsibility as spiritual Shepherds in encouraging and leading our respective flocks, especially in our Middle East region, who are being “snatched and scattered by the wolves” of the darkness of this world. For our common shepherd, Jesus Christ says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Indeed, today Christ, our Shepherd, is born. And indeed, He is the good Shepherd who does not abandon His own and those who know him, and even those who are aspiring to Him.

Let us pray to the newly born Son of God, and together with our Church Father Saint John Chrysostom:

Christ our God, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, you have fulfilled all the Father’s dispensation. Fill our hearts with joy and gladness, always, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Blessed Christmas and a peaceful new year. Thank you.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem




ADDRESS OF H.B.TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTONOMY AT A RECEPTION ON THE OCCASION OF CHRISTMAS 2013

Bethlehem, 24 December 2013/ 6 January 2014

Your Excellency, President of the Palestinian State

Honorable Representative of the King of Jordan,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The city of Bethlehem is the physical and spiritual symbol of God’s philanthropy, namely of peace and justice on earth, but also of the hope of any man and people. Especially those suffering injustice and persecution, slavery and hunger, those displaced from their paternal homes by contemporary Herods, the “workers of iniquity” (Luke 13, 27).

This we say because the historical event of Christmas, the incarnation and humanization of the Logos God, expressly defeated and exposed the arrogance of the lords of this dark world, on the word of the Apostle Paul (Ephes. 6, 12).

The feast of Christmas, Mr President, is not exclusive to our Churches, but a feast of all men, especially the faithful of the three monotheist religions, chosen for the Holy Land by divine providence in order to coexist in peace and concord, “And those he predestined”, says the wise Paul, those he also called”. (Rom. 8, 30).

The Cavern of Bethlehem wherein lies the Church of Constantine the Great, now in the process of renovation, where the worship is performed of the God of love, peace and justice through the centuries since the Birth of Jesus Christ, serves as undeniable testimony of the diaconate and mission of our Greek Orthodox Patriarchate; testimony respected by caliph Omar ibn Khatab and his successors to this day.

Your presence and participation, Mr President, as well as that of the representative of His Majesty the King of Jordan, in this celebration offers clear proof of the unity of our peoples and also of our religious Communities.

We wish that the God of peace, born in a cavern, grants your Excellency enlightenment from above, health in body and soul, and the administrative power to lead the struggling Palestinian people to the realization of the sacred right of complete national freedom and independence.

Many happy returns, in peace.

In the Holy City of Bethlehem, Christmas 2013

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem