The Syrian Civil War has affected Christians, Muslims, and people with other theologies or having no faith, but the Local Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East has its roots in Syria, with its home base still in Damascus. Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi heads the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, which oversees the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, which includes the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, and its component parishes of St Elias in Sylvania OH and St George Cathedral in Toledo OH.
As of today, according to a Facebook posting on the patriarchate’s website, Patriarch Youhanna remains active in his ministry in Syria. On Sunday, he said at a monastery 17 miles north of Damascus, “I say to all Syrians and to all the world… Syria is a gift from God, so let’s keep and protect her carefully. Syria wasn’t created to be baptised with the blood of her sons, but to baptise all the world with the strength of the peace that prevailed in her land and with the ink of the alphabet that started here. Syria didn’t exist to cover, with her sand, the bodies of her fighting sons, but to cover the world with the brightness of light which came out from its borders to proclaim to the whole world a strength of culture and a splendour of history”.
In a pastoral letter dated 6 August, Patriarch Youhanna wrote that the Antiochian Holy Synod set 15 September as a day of solidarity for all Antiochian parishes to support humanitarian and relief work. Fr Ignatius Warren of St Elias parish said, “There’s not a whole lot of information specifically about what the patriarch’s activities are, or anything like that”. Fr Ignatius said that many Christians have left the region, and that “much of the targeting was specifically towards Christians and their churches in those regions” where Syrians are fighting, and that refugees found shelter in Lebanon and Cyprus. He pointed up that prominent Muslim clergy members also died in attacks in Syria.
30 August 2013
T K Barger
ALL Orthodox in the USA and Canada should make 15 September a Special Day of Prayer for Syria. We should pray for Syria and all of its people during the liturgy itself and have a molieben of intercession after the main service. Perhaps, we could make it a “fasting” day to emphasise that it’s that serious a situation. Our own are in peril… it’s time for us to act accordingly and properly. That’s a hint to Alexander Golitzin (the effectual Metropolitan of the OCA)…