At the invitation of the council of Oriental Catholic Patriarchs, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in an ecumenical meeting during the 25th conference of the council, entitled this year: “Ecclesial and Political Situations in the Countries of the Middle East”.
The meeting was attended by religious leaders from the Middle East including: Aram I, Armenian Orthodox Catholicos of Great See of Cilicia, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Louis Rafael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Ibrahim Isaak, Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Gregory Bedros XX Gabroyan, Armenian Catholic Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia, Joseph Absi, Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem, and His Eminence Archbishop Baselius Mansour representing His Beatitude John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, as well as His Excellency Mgr. Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, and Rev. Dr. Selim Sehiouni, Head of the High Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.
After the opening prayer, His Beatitude Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al Raii gave a speech in which he greeted their Holinesses, Beatitudes and Excellencies at the Valley of Qannoubin which was the Maronite patriarchal chair for a long period of time. His Beatitude emphasized the importance of the presence of Christians in the Middle East as the guardians of the faith of the apostles and forefathers. He added that Christians are not minorities for they are the owners of the land even more than 600 years before Islam.
After the opening, an ecumenical session was organized in which their Holinesses, Beatitudes and Excellencies discussed church matters of common concern and the situations in the region.
His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II pointed out that the major problem that our churches are facing is the massive emigration which is drastically affecting the demographic distribution of the Christians among their fellow citizens. He also suggested that the churches should unite their efforts and work together in order to provide their faithful with the best service and ministry.
His Holiness was accompanied by Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.