05/03/2005, 00.00
SYRIA
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Stronger ties with the Catholic Church, says Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim

by Jihad Issa
During Easter Mass in Damascus, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch urged the faithful to renew their faith in the future and expressed a desire for a single calendar for all Christians.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – We want to renew and strengthen our ecumenical commitment with the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI. It was with this statement that Ignatius IV Hazim, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, began his solemn Easter Mass homily.

The mass was celebrated last Sunday, May 1, at al-Mariamieat Cathedral in Christian neighbourhood of Bab Touma—Thomas Gate—in Damascus before thousands of faithful and several representatives of the Syrian government.

"We really want to believe in the Resurrection of the Lord, and we believe in it through deeds of peace, harmony and charity," the Patriarch said.

He urged the faithful to "repent in the heart" and renew in each and everyone of you your "faith in the future".

Ignatius IV told those present of the important role each one of them played without which it would be impossible to rebuild "a true Christian identity".

The Patriarch expressed his desire to see Christian Churches agree to a "fixed calendar for celebrations", which would give the Christian people, wherever they dwelt, the possibility of celebrating the same feasts at the same time.

The Patriarch strongly reiterated his desire to maintain and strengthen the ties established by the late Pope John Paul II with the Church now led by Pope Benedict XVI to whom he sends his best wishes.

At the end of the service, Ignatius Iv asked Mary, Mother of God, for Her intercession, so that today's world may "be more peaceful, dialogue and communication between one and another".

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