04/17/2014, 00.00
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Gregorios III to set up a forum for Syrian Christian intellectuals to promote a society based on Gospel values

by Fady Noun
In his Easter message for Easter, the Patriarch of the (Melkite Greek Catholic) Church of Antioch renewed his call for a "truce for life" and an end to the war in Syria." Speaking about the pope's upcoming visit to the Holy Land, he extended a hand of welcome to the pontiff, and thanked him for "his prayer for Syria".

Beirut (AsiaNews) - In his Easter message, Gregorios III Laham, patriarch of the (Melkite Greek Catholic) Church of Antioch, renewed his call for an end to the war in Syria, and a "truce for life". He also announced the creation of a forum for Syrian Christian intellectuals to promote a society based on Gospel values.

In his note, which was released yesterday, the patriarch said, "We must repudiate the logic of war and power, based a logic of selfishness and death".

In view of this, "I appeal to the whole world on behalf of the poor, the weak, the widows, the victims, the dead, the wounded, the maimed; of all those who are disfigured, refugees, asylum seekers, hungry, children, elderly, pregnant women, handicapped; of all those who are despairing, hurting and discouraged; of so many people I often meet at the Syrian-Lebanese border, when I travel from Beirut to Damascus, during my visits to the families of the victims and the injured. Everyone is weighed down by fear for future and the fate of their families, children, and young people."

In the message, Gregorios III also announced that he is "planning to set up a forum for Syrian intellectuals, which will bring together an elite group of Christian thinkers and believers engaged in the problems of Syrian society."

The patriarch will ask the forum to "formulate principles, methods, and programmes based on our national values ​​and the teachings of the Gospel."

For the Church leader, the Islamic-Christian element will play an essential role in the forum, contributing to "a better society founded on the values ​​of the Gospel as well as faith, as is wont among Christians and Muslims."

The forum will draw extensively from the Second Vatican Council, which encourages the Church to fight secularist ideas by "presenting clearly the values ​​of the Holy Gospel and the teachings of the Church."

Finally, speaking about the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the Holy Land, Gregorius III extended a welcoming hand, thanking him for "his prayer for Syria".

In doing so, he also cited a poem by Patriarch Athenagoras who wrote, ". . . now I am disarmed. / I am no longer frightened of anything / because love banishes fear. / I am disarmed of the need to be right / and to justify myself by disqualifying others. / . . . I just want to welcome and to share. . . . / What is good, true and real is always for me the best. / That is why I have no fear. / When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self / If we open our hearts to the God-Man / who makes all things new / then He takes away past hurts / and reveals a new time / where everything is possible."

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For Gregorios III Laham, "the Christian mission in Syria is reconciliation among Muslims"
Gregorios III: Christians do not need Assad to survive
Gregorios III Laham appeals to Europe for compromise in Syria
Melkite Patriarch of Damascus calls for urgent dialogue between government and youth
Pope calls for "a just and lasting solution" to the war in Syria and respect for religious freedom in the Middle East