04/11/2006, 00.00
SYRIA
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Easter message of Gregory III urges charity, resurrection for peace for all Arabs

by Jihad Issa

In the document, there are prayers offered for peace in the Holy Land, Sudan, Iraq, and all other countries in need of peace, security and work opportunities, to put the brakes on emigration, especially of youth, who are the future of the region and the Church in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – The Greek-Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, has issued a pastoral letter called "Charity and the resurrection as means of peace for all Arabs". In his letter, Gregory III Laham said: "The principle linking charity to the resurrection is the only way that leads to true peace, stability, prosperity, cooperation, evolution, freedom, justice and dignity for all the citizens of Arab countries."

The pastoral letter is divided according to the following sub-titles: 1) The miracles of Jesus are miracles of charity and resurrection; 2) Charity as a necessary condition for participating in the joy of the Resurrection; 3) Works of charity are works of life and Resurrection; 4) The development of charity is the true development in the world; 5) Conclusion

In the first part of the document, Patriarch Gregory III Laham tackles miracles performed by Jesus Christ, describing them as acts of charity and mercy that find the fulfillment of their meaning in the Lord's resurrection; in fact they constitute the elements of the Resurrection. In the second part, entitled "Charity as a necessary condition for participating in the joy of the Resurrection", he cites John's description of God as Love, and underlines this phrase as a reflection of the universal Judgment narrated in Matthew 28. This passage affirms that we will be judged according to our works of charity and mercy, because the exercise of charity is the foundation on which to build the world while a lack of charity implies the destruction of the world. And since charity is stronger than death, it can raise the dead or prevent death in the first place.

In the third part of the letter, the patriarch indicates acts of charity as acts of life and of resurrection and launches a strong appeal in favour of the poor, the marginalized and all people who suffer persecution and die because of famine, thirst or disease. The patriarch talked about the need to respect man's fundamental freedoms – the right to life, education and shelter – as a cause geared towards the life and resurrection of others. In the fourth part of the pastoral letter, Gregory III Laham pointed to the worthiness of he who loves and lives in a state of continued resurrection, because he is capable of breaking the chains of death and of sin. Such a man finds in charity the justification for living and for resurrection, for courage and optimism, for forgiveness and for reconciliation, for service and for the victory over evil, over corruption, suffering and disease. "He who loves fears nothing, not even losing his life; where there is charity, there is joy and peace."

Patriarch Laham ended his pastoral letter with a special mention for his diocese of Damascus, that the combination of charity and resurrection may be present and reign in the hearts of all. He raised prayers for peace in the Holy Land, in Sudan, in Iraq and all countries where there is need of peace, security and work opportunities. This would put the brakes on emigration, especially of youth who are the future of the region and the Church in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

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