10/03/2013, 00.00
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Patriarch Youhanna of Antioch: The encounter with Pope Francis was warm and historic

by Fady Noun
Between September 26 and October 1 the pontifex met Greek Orthodox Patriarch: "Together against the crises afflicting the Mashreq countries".

Beirut (AsiaNews) - "The meeting between the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Youhanna X Yazigi and Pope Francis in the Vatican - in the week between September 26 and October 1 - was warm and historic" announced yesterday a statement issued by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and circulated in Beirut.

The text reads: "The Patriarch of Antioch, of the Greek Orthodox and all the East, Youhanna X Yazigi, joins and prays with the sister Church of Rome, for peace in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Mashreq and worldwide".

"The visit", the statement specified, "was not of an official nature; rather its goal was to make known to the world the position of the Greek Orthodox Church on the war in Syria, and to join its voice to that of the Holy See, in the appeal to dialogue as a solution to the crises afflicting the Mashreq countries".

During the meeting, Youhanna X Yazigi thanked the Pope for his call to prayer and fasting for the sake of peace in Syria and around the world.

The Patriarch, likewise, shared with the Holy Father the "pain" that afflicts his people following the abduction of two bishops: Youhanna Ibrahim (Syrian Orthodox) and Boulos Yazigi (brother of the Patriarch and Bishop of Aleppo), of whom there has been no information for five months. Youhanna X Yazigi demanded their release and that "of all the hostages," and he called on "the divine mercy for priests who have given their blood and their consolation for all the broken-hearted".

In front of the Patriarch, the Pope reaffirmed "his opposition to all forms of extremism, violence and terror, in addition to his appeal for a peaceful political solution [...] as the sole guarantor of the survival of the Christians and their compatriots in the motherland [...] and a dignified life, founded on citizenship, mutual acceptance and sharing."

To consolidate the fraternal bonds between the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Greek-Orthodox and the Holy See, the Patriarch Youhanna X Yazigi met many senior leaders of the Catholic Church, to whom he expressed "the need to move towards unity".

For this reason he met the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, especially thanking him "for the wise decision to have kept as Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus Mario Zenari, direct witness of the problems facing Muslims and Christians". 


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Synod for the Middle East: a Message to the People of God
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