Patriarch Youssef

His Beatitude at the IDC inaugural Summit 9-11 September

11 9 2014

After the visit to Christian Valley and while flying to the Witness Summit in Washington

Today, the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin brings glad tidings to the universe. My prayer is for joy to fill the hearts of millions of people in our Arab countries, which are so filled with worries, fears, suffering and tragedy that impact lives both in public and in private.

While spreading hope and joy in Christian Valley I could not help noticing the profound suffering of displaced persons. Though they are safe where they are, they are labouring under the weight of cares, afflictions and very painful memories concerning their homes, relatives, possessions and their own and their children’s future.

Today my fellow Patriarchs and I are flying to Washington on this gruelling journey to the United States.

My feelings are mixed! On the one hand I am content to be on the way of the cross along with our countries, parishes and fellow-citizens. We bear the sufferings and expectations of them all as the Second Vatican Council affirms, and as Saint Paul said so eloquently. All are pinning all their hopes on the Church. Did not our Lord Jesus tell us, “Do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)

Yes, let the Spirit speak in us! I hear what the Lord God is saying within me! He speaks peace for his people and his elect.  His salvation is nigh for the one who fears him. “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Ps 84:10 LXX /85:10)

My contribution before the greatest power among the nations is meant to be a spiritual witness in favour of peace in our region: its security, and living together among the various constituents, especially the young! This is a common responsibility. The Church is an integral part of that society and we have a common responsibility in the face of so much suffering and tragedy. We make up part of this tragedy and we also represent a part of the solution. I should like to recall here a threefold sentence proper to the medical team that works in a hospital in Germany and which is helping me complete the projected building of a hospital between Damascus and Daraa in the native village of my mother where the Apostle Paul stayed for three years after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

Here is the slogan:
Who? if not us!
Where? If not here!
When? If not now!
I’ll be using this slogan effectively in this great country where great decisions are made.

I am putting this slogan to the West with love and trust.

And I’m also putting it to the East, our Arab countries, kings, princes, state presidents and heads of government….

I’m really very hopeful that the patriarchs’ voice may be heard as was the prophets’ and sages’!

Our visit and participation represent an historic step in the annals of the Church. Today the Church, more than any other society, entity, institution or organisation bears this responsibility, and, as patriarchs,  we ought to continue our initiatives at every level, knocking on every door : of hearts, to  change the inclination of States and international organisations. Yes, the Church must offer every sacrifice, take every step regardless of cost for it represents the roots and foundations of Christian and Muslim Arab society.

It is called to bring about peace in the region in order to be worthy of the Beatitude shown by its Master and Founder among peace-makers, the One who is Prince and King of Peace: “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.”  May it be a peace-maker like its Master and gather into one the children of God scattered abroad.

This is the greatest and most sublime goal of all the mysteries of our Christian faith: the incarnation. Jesus, the Word incarnate, said, defining the goal of his incarnation and coming into this world: “I am come that they (everyone) might have life and might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

That is the role and story of the Church. That is still its message today!

Fear not little flock the great role that is yours, for the welfare of all humanity!

The unified and harmonised voice of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs who share a common vision has as its goal to be the trigger for a global and really ecumenical Christian consensus on the East. Thus the Church’s voice will be one both in the East and in the West: the Holy Father and the Catholic Church through its bishops’ assemblies, the Orthodox Churches, the Anglican and other reformed Churches. Let us promulgate a joint spiritual declaration that highlights the Church’s role in the current existential crisis. That is a special challenge and unique opportunity for the Church to act in favour of peace in the predominantly Muslim Arab East. So it shows its role and vocation to Eastern society. This can only strengthen the Christian presence, role, vocation and involvement in the East so as to give Christians the strength of conviction to remain anchored in the Middle East, cradle of Christianity.

From our history, culture and lived, shared experience, the Churches must walk in step to broaden their sphere of action to reach the spiritual leadership of our Muslim brethren too, so that the patriarchs and muftis and ulema of Arab countries can meet and work together to reflect on the current crises and tragedies of our Arab world, especially on the development of fundamentalism, terrorism and takfirism as they have recently appeared. Let them draw up reports and action plans to remedy these situations. That would be a providential opportunity and historic step which has to be undertaken together.

Recently I sent a letter on this subject to the muftis of Arab countries and I trust that they will react positively to it.

Here is a road-map inspired by Christian and Muslim faith and it is a fundamental stage towards a unified strategy based on a single vision.

As patriarch with the title of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem and with residences in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Jerusalem I have experienced in a special way the tragedies associated with the Arab Spring in Egypt and Syria, Gaza and Lebanon. Our faithful are facing a fire that is consuming the region: it burns and destroys, kills and terrorises. I have witnessed their sufferings and on 20 August we visited those who had taken refuge in Erbil, far from the ethnic cleansing of the Islamic State.

Faced with this dramatic reality that we are experiencing in the East, I am launching an existential appeal: we all in the Arab world, to whatever denomination we may belong, are facing a single historic challenge: “to be or not to be.” As our great singer Fayrouz said after Jerusalem was taken in 1967: “Love has withdrawn and the world’s heart has been consumed by war.”

That is my deep fear! Here is my appeal that I am making with a broken heart in this Washington summit. I trust that my cry will reach your awareness and heart in your assembly, congress and organisations!

Save the Arab world ! Save the Arab East! with all its constituents, ethnicities and confessions. Put the fire out! It’s at your door!

As Pope Francis said when he visited Jordan on 24 April: peace in the Middle East has two keys : a real peaceful solution in Syria and justice in the Palestinian case.

Dear friends,

In the East we shall succeed in overcoming this identity crisis. Our perseverance in living together (despite difficulties), as we have done throughout our long history  is the only warranty for safety and well-being in the Middle East, and even for the West (Europe, the United States) and Australasia. Light comes from the East. From the East which has given the light of faith, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there comes and is fulfilled the salvation of the world.

Join us on the march of Christian faith, charity and hope!

We are praying for you to be peace-makers: may the peace of Christ be in your hearts, minds, souls and countries.

On board the plane to Washington


+Gregorios III Laham

Talk of His Beatitude at the IDC inaugural Summit 9-11 September

Theme: Call to Unity
1. The incarnation is a call to unity
Incarnation and monotheism (or oneness) are two expressions which are mutually attractive. We see them as signs of the will of God to unify all his creatures, unifying them amongst themselves in the depths of divine revelation.
So we find this in the New Testament, in the message of Jesus, his teachings and miracles, parables of the Kingdom of God amongst men, discourse before the life-giving and saving passion and above all in the solemn, mysterious, sacrificial, sacerdotal prayer that Jesus made for the union of all believing Christians, in which he says, “Father, that they may be one as we are.” (cf. John 17:21) So we see throughout the whole life of Jesus, a leitmotiv linking all the events in it, a divine concern, that does not wish to see man lost, isolated, scattered, divided against himself in his mind and heart, aspirations and personal life, employment, family and social life.
2- The Unifying Role of our Church
The realization of the goals of the unifying incarnation is our most important obligation both inside and outside our Church: inside our Eastern ecclesial society and on the level of the universal Church. It has been the task of our Antiochian Church and its role throughout history, since the time of Patriarch Peter III of Antioch who drew to the attention of Patriarch Michael Cerularius, the damage and the unhappy consequences of breaking union with Rome in 1054.
When we consider this impressive inheritance, we cannot appear fearful or discouraged in the face of the demands of Christian unity. We don’t have the right to doubt our unifying ecumenical role on all levels, especially Eastern and Western.
3- Unity in Commitment and Solidarity
Among the fruits of the unifying incarnation is the internal unity of the Church, because the Church is the body of Christ as St. Paul says, very clearly, showing that the unity of the Church is the unity of the faithful in Christ, the unity of man and woman, the unity of the family, unity of the members of the one body. As he says, “For as the body is one, with its many limbs, which, many as they are, together are one body, so is Christ.
This unity is necessary at the social level: it means social and sociological involvement in the work place and in political life, at every level in the life of our Church. Our society needs us all and together we can build a better world, a saved and redeemed world, a world which lives out the values and virtues of the Church and the Gospel, the virtues of the incarnate and unifying Christ.
4- Call for Unity in the Arab World
The expression “Church of the Arabs” means in a unique manner, the Church of Jesus Christ, living in an Arab milieu and in a deep and intimate relationship with this Arab world, with its sufferings and hopes, its joys and pains, its problems and crises. The Church is Emmanuel, Church with and for this Arab society and in this Arab society, without forgetting its Arab roots and Arab nature, due to history and geography. The most important thing is not to affirm that the Church is Arab, but rather that the Church has a mission in the Arab world and society. In fact, this Arab world in which the Church lives, in which it is planted as in its own soil, sealed into the depths of its history and geography, is in its vast majority the world of Islam The Church constitutes fifteen million out of 400 hundred people. This Church of the Arab world and society is a Church of Islam, of Muslim society, a Church that lives with the Arab and Islamic world It is the Church that lives in this Arab, Islamic world, which is in interaction with it, suffers and rejoices with it, builds with it, hopes and grows with it, loves and serves with it: it is truly the Emmanuel Church, a Church with and for this world.
That is why the Eastern Church, or Church of the Arabs, Church of Islam, is really thereby in the school of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel God, Love God, Redeemer God, Saviour God. It is he who defined the goal of his incarnation, of Christmas, of his birth, by saying, “The Son of God came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many,” (Mark 10:45) and “I am come that they might have life and have it in abundance,” (John 10:10) and it is as St. Paul said, “For even Christ pleased not himself,” (Romans 15:3).

These holy verses are a true and clear call for each Christian to go outside himself, his isolation, his tribe, as Abraham was told,” Go out from your tribe, from your people and from your father’s house.” (Gen. 12:1) So the Christian must go out from all that can form an obstacle between himself and another, in order to meet the other and be himself Emmanuel, a man “with and for.”
Our Christian faith in the unifying incarnation cannot confine itself to efforts for Christian unity. Belief in one God becomes a call for unity among humankind and the unity of the incarnation calls for the unification of our common goals in society in order to face up to different challenges that are common to us all, both Muslims and Christians. Unity in God, unification from God must be a call for unity amongst men, to solidarity between them and to deepen the links of love between them.
We Arab Christians who live in an Arab society which is largely Muslim have a special mission in that sense in a society which is from us, as we are from it, and which is for us, as we are for it.
We Arab Christians are in a very deep relationship with the Muslim Arabs in our Arab countries: we are of their flesh and blood, their ethnicity, tribe, society, civilization, culture and traditions. We are a Church which daily, for the last fourteen hundred years has been living side by side with Islam, profoundly influenced by Islam and in turn influencing Islam. This Church has borne throughout history very serious social and national responsibilities and even of war with Muslim fellow-citizens. In fact, Islam is present to our whole society and to our families, to our cares, congresses, studies, sermons, speeches, to our way of thinking and social projects.
Yes, we have a special vocation to face up to this great challenge. We ought to love one another, to show solidarity with each other and help each other, so that Muslims help Christians and Christians help Muslims, so that Muslims defend Christians and Christians Muslims, so that Christians show the best aspects of their Christianity and Muslims the best of their Islam.
Let us say to everyone in the Arab world that the solution to our problems lies in our faith as Muslims and Christians. If we succeed in facing up to this challenge in a positive and decisive way, we shall bring about a unique victory and surely be an example to the whole world as agents of peace and salvation in our world, both Eastern and Western against all movement of takifirism.
The fruits of the unifying incarnation also touch all the nations of the whole world and it is as Jesus said, or rather as is said about Jesus, that he will “die for the nation,” but not only for one nation, but also to unify all the scattered children of this world. That is why it is the duty of Christians to be the initiators, the heralds of unity for the entire world.
We have, in the past years and before the actual crisis, addressed multiple appeals to all the kings and heads of state of the Arab world calling them to realize as much as possible unity amongst themselves, so that all together we can meet the challenges of division and destruction and which really threatens the unity of peoples of the whole world. Indeed, we have many unified and unifying factors amongst us: our Arab nature, Islam, language, culture, civilization, history, and especially the fact that our lands are holy for Christians and Muslims and even for Jews.
Noblesse oblige. If our lands are called “the cradle of religions” and if we are all proud of being monotheists and worshipping one God alone, then we shall succeed in realizing unity between our peoples, and respond to the appeal of new generations and their aspirations to faith in God, by living together side by side, in common service and solidarity, in human dignity, in co-citizenship, in freedom of worship and conscience in a society which is more and more divided, in justice, equality, safety and just peace, which is the key to peace for the whole world and the warranty for starting new progress towards finding a way to development and prosperity in the region.
The Arab countries ask America and Europe and all countries of the world to help them conclude and resolve the Palestinian Arab and Israeli conflict, which envelops and destroys the region, subjecting it to terror and violence and which has been at the root of all our problems, wars and crises for the last fifty years and more. I, as Patriarch of a Church which feels itself in profound solidarity with the Arab world, think that we should overcome our regional differences and realize an Arab unity which would be the warranty for really finding a just, general and lasting solution to this conflict and also assuring a brilliant future for the Arab world, meeting the aspirations of our young generation.

I am absolutely convinced that our faith, Christian and Muslim, is our greatest weapon both today and tomorrow to realize the different aspects of our holy mission and for preserving the values of our common, holy faith. I refuse absolutely to allow our countries to be considered the home of fundamentalism, violence, terrorism, aggressiveness theory, extremism and religious war. These expressions and situations are absolutely contrary to our values, faith, tradition and civilization. And in all that, unity is the foundation which can help us to repel these accusations hurled at the Arab world.
We are all unifying monotheists. Through our common faith, we must be strong enough to reject these charges and besides, be creative in finding solutions for Arab-Muslim Arab-Christian, Arab Palestinian-Israeli conflicts and also for the bloody situation in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon, for all the other social and sociological, economic, religious and spiritual crises which threaten our societies and families, young people and cultural institutions and which touch all aspects of life in the homelands of our Arab world.
So our churches are working very hard to realize their spiritual service, of being places where one can address the problems of Arab countries from the point of view of religion and spirituality, of dialogue and culture and through that we become world spokesmen for the defence of the values of faith of us all, Christians and Muslims in the Arab world.

IDC Summit 9-11 September 2014
Talk of His Beatitude Gregorios III
Presence, Role and Vision

Our great concern, expressed through our annual letters, has been and always will be how to preserve the Christian presence as actual, witnessing and serving in our Arab society with its Muslim majority.
1 Some remarks about the actual situation

1.1 Trust between East and West

It would be a great error for the leaders of the West, Europe and America, to think or believe that dividing the Arab world would bring about a good atmosphere for the creation of a new Middle East. On the basis of our faith and spiritual, social and national experience, we would like to warn those who make propaganda for this divisive way of thinking and tell them very frankly, “No new Middle East with a divided Arab world!”  As for those who throw down the gauntlet for splitting the Arab world into an archipelago of religious communities and cantons in the name of bringing into being a new Middle East, theirs is certainly a losing wager, for there will be no democracy or democratic society in one Arab country without the others.
1.2 A New Middle East without War

The conditions and situations through which the Arab world is going, especially in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria after the experience of consecutive wars, we consider propitious, indeed, an excellent opportunity and gage, for all of us to understand the lessons of history. The great harvest of goodness, security and prosperity, is a new Middle East without war. That is why we are speaking to all of them to work at making our Arab Eastern region into a weapon-free zone, without war, hatred or enmity, so that these lands may be holy through God’s presence as he willed, and where Jews, Christians and Muslims, all children of the three great monotheistic religions may live together in peace and harmony. These lands are their spiritual cradle, where they are called to bear fruits of peace and be renewed by the Spirit of God.
Instead of these regions being subject to clashes and bloody conflicts, consecutively repeated over more than fifty years; instead of these conflicts being a sign of the end of the world, let them be rather a sign of the beginning of a new world.
1.3 Freedom of worship assured

Basing ourself on our personal experience about the situation of Christians in Arab countries, we may affirm that Christians are able to practise their faith without any opposition in all Arab countries with different levels, except some countries. Indeed, freedom of worship is assured in the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Kuwait, and the Emirates in general.

In all these countries there are churches, catechism classes, religious books, the possibility of celebrating prayers and festivals, sacraments, spiritual retreats, schools, religious social institutions, dispensaries, hospitals, monasteries, brotherhoods, youth groups, pamphlets, reviews, all basic elements for Christian living. In the Arab world, no-one can stop me as a Christian practising my Christian lifestyle. No-one can prevent me from living a holy Christian life. No-one can prevent families from living together in peace and security and from educating their children in a true Christian atmosphere. There are difficulties and problems, pressures of a daily nature sometimes, which are part of any life, but the same can happen in other societies, religious or otherwise, Eastern or Western, or elsewhere.
2 Role of Arab Christians

2.1 Principles of Arab Christians’ Role

We affirm that all religions concur in the principles of freedom of human beings having an absolute personal value and of equality of all men, even if the applications differ. Jesus Christ explained to us in the parable of the compassionate Good Samaritan, that everyone is our neighbour. He showed us the constant value, which cannot agree with any kind of injustice, coercion, slavery, tyranny, despotism and subjection…For political authority is a public service and the Church has always been a victim of and resistant to the yoke of totalitarian regimes, because it is the apostle of freedom, dignity and justice.

We have to discover our role, instead of fearing for our future, rights, duties and privileges, and especially in the following matters: protection of pluralism, and the culture of pluralism, and the preservation of Arabness. We have to make common cause with progressive Muslim groups, so that they can move forward alongside us. We ought to spread the Church’s very rich social teaching, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century.

Arab Christians should work together without fear or hesitation for the Arab world to regain strong international unity, for this is our own world’s unity. The Arab world is in the throes of a very difficult birth-giving. Through cultural Arabism we ought to help a pluralist society be born and build a common future.

I have unshakeable confidence in Islamic reason’s capacity to hold modern culture. It is sufficiently flexible to reconcile the texts of sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) with modern demands. We should collaborate in nurturing Arab humanity.

Yet our Arab world is young; young people can be easily influenced and fall prey to fundamentalism, violence, terrorism, hatred, Islamism and the rejection of others, under the influence of extremist fatwas (juridical opinions) from extremist, utilitarian or exploitative sheikhs.

The greatest danger threatening the Arab world is the so-called “new Arab world” emanating from the so-called “Arab Spring.”For the prospect facing the new Arab world is division and fragmentation along sectarian and religious lines. Israel managed to get the world to accept its unilateral declaration of being a “Jewish State” without taking into account its Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arab citizens. Remarkably, no-one in the secular, democratic European world protested at that declaration.
One could be forgiven for thinking that European society wanted Arab countries to follow the example of the Jewish State, divided on the basis of faith, ethnicity and denomination. It means that Syria, Iraq and other countries being divided into state lets, cantons, faith or confessional ghettos: Sunni, Shi’a, Alawite, Druze, Yazidi Kurd, Jewish and perhaps Christian. So I have read in several accounts of these plans.

In my opinion that is the main reason why an agreement cannot be reached to resolve the Syrian crisis: there is a desire to divide Syria and the countries in the region through the Arab Spring.
2.2 Christian presence in evolution

I should like to put forward a proposal and leave politically-minded Christians to realise it: perhaps it is necessary and useful to found a Forum with Muslim fellow-citizens bearing the name “Reform and Peace”. It would have the aim of internal and external reform and would gather around it members from home and abroad and peace activists everywhere.

Furthermore I would like to explain that what are called prerogatives enjoyed by Christians in the Arab world and in Syria in particular are ancient rights neither linked to a given Arab regime, nor in the gift of any regime. This can be seen from the Firman or decree issued by Sultan AbdülmecidI (7 January 1848), recognizing the Melkite Greek Catholic community (Taïfaou Millet) as an independent Church under the authority of a legitimate patriarch.

In this important historic document, we discover the foundation of what is called the personal statute particular to Christian communities. It is still in force, recognized and practised in various forms in Christian communities in Arab countries in general. This personal statute was recently renewed in Syria through a law promulgated in 2006. It won widespread approval in the local and world press, including the European and other. At that time I personally circulated it to all embassies. This Statute sums up the whole legislation of the Eastern Catholic Church concerning the personal statute.
3. Vision: Appeal to the world

On the basis of our Christian faith and spiritual mission and role as pastor and Patriarch, we turn to everyone: the President of our country and his colleagues, all Arab countries, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, countries of the European Union, all nations of the world, pacifists, Nobel Peace Prize-winners, all men and women of good will, the pure-hearted, leaders of social media, people of letters, thinkers, captains of industry and commerce, arms merchants... and call upon you all to expend every possible effort for peace in the Middle East. Our tragedy has exceeded every measure and limit! It has adversely affected nearly every citizen. We ask God to hear this appeal. May he guide your hearts to heed this appeal from him and from us.

We all ought to try to bring about a truce for life. We have to reject the logic of war and power as a selfish, murderous rationale!
I am launching this appeal to the whole world, in the name of the poor, weak, widows, victims, mortally wounded, mutilated, disfigured, displaced persons, refugees, homeless, hungry, children, the elderly, pregnant women, handicapped, all those in despair, pain and discouragement, such as I often encounter at the Syrian-Lebanese border when travelling from Beirut to Damascus, or during my visits to families of victims and disaster-stricken people. They are burdened by fear about the future and the fate of their families, children and young people.    
We tell everyone quite frankly: War has not succeeded! Violence has not succeeded! Weapons have not succeeded! Arming groups with all sorts of weapons hasn’t succeeded! The falsified publicity propaganda has not succeeded. The projects of certain Arab and European countries have not succeeded. Economic sanctions have not succeeded. Threats of iron and fire have not succeeded. Alliances have not succeeded.

Given all these failures, isn’t it time for the world to realise that no-one wins through war, that political resolution is best, and that our people alone will decide their future and say who ought to be their President and government and what their Constitution ought to be?

The reasons for the importance of our Christian presence in the Middle East are: 
Firstly: An historic one. The Middle East is the cradle of Christianity. Jesus was born in Palestine, but Christianity was born in Syria (in the historic sense of the term.)
Secondly: The whole history of the Church began in the East. That is why Jerusalem is called “Mother of all Churches.”
Thirdly: Our interaction with the Arab world, especially in the context of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. Five patriarchs bear the same title and govern the same patriarchal territory. But none of them resides in Antioch: three have their residence in Damascus (the Greek Orthodox, the Melkite Greek Catholic and the Syriac Orthodox) and two in Mount Lebanon, (the Maronite in Bkerkeh and the Syriac Catholic at Sharfet). These are Antiochian Churches, stretching as far as Iraq and beyond, which have contributed to all aspects (academic, literary, cultural, civilisational, medical and political) of the history of this region of the Middle East.
Fourthly:The significance of our presence is above all not as an inward-looking community, as though we were on an island or in a ghetto. Of course, we can live as Christians everywhere in the world. But the real challenge for us is to live our Christianity in the Arab Middle East which is predominantly Muslim, though still the cradle of Christianity.
Fifthly: We have a very special title, both meaningful and characteristic. In fact, we are known as “Church of the Arabs” (Father Jean Corbon’s book), and I’ve also proposed the name of “Church of Islam.”
Sixthly: So we are a Church with and for the predominantly Muslim Arab world. With and for: is the phrase coined by Pope Saint John Paul II in his last message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2005.
Seventhly: We have been really for this Arab world and, as I mentioned earlier, we are the main actors in Arab history. We Christianised or baptized Greek culture. Then we Arabised or, so to speak, Islamicised it, because we placed it at the service of Islam and the Arab world and civilization.
Eighthly:  Just as we have really been in the past agents of Arab culture and civilisation, and even of Arabism and secular movements in the history of the Arab world, so we are called to be again nowadays.
Ninthly: We are the ones called to bring about a real “Arab Spring.” This is not the time to be afraid and ask for protection, as though we were persecuted Christians. I hate the word “persecuted.[1]” I prefer the word “martyrs” in the sense of those who (even in death) witness to the life, activity and effectiveness of mission in our Arab world. Our world is called God’s world in our liturgy. Indeed, in the Eucharistic prayer of the Byzantine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, we say, speaking to God the Father, “You so loved Your world that You gave Your only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
    Here is my slogan:

  • We Christians and Muslims ought to remain togetherin order to build a better world for our young generations.

  • We Christians and Muslims can stay togetherin order to build a better world for our young generations, as we have already done for 1435 years[2] of shared history.

  • We Christians and Muslims want to stay togetherin order to build a better world for our young generations.

“Fear not, little flock” (Luke 12: 32)

I emphasised the fact that Jesus gave the little flock a big role for the sake of the big flock, so that the meaning of the presence, role and mission of this little flock in the Arab world, where Jesus, the Gospel and Christianity were born, is being with and for the big flock
At the closing of the jubilee celebration on 15 August last, I made this heartfelt plea to my faithful:
Without you, this anniversary is meaningless. Without your endurance and decision to stay here, all our churches and institutions are meaningless, as is the presence of a Patriarch, bishops, priests, monks and nuns.
       Stay, so that the Church can stay here!
       Stay, so that Christianity can remain here!
       Stay, so that Christ can stay here!
       Stay, so that the Gospel can stay here!
       Stay, so that living together can remain here!
       Stay, so that plurality can stay here!

Stay, so that we can remain with our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters and fellow-citizens from all communities, and let us build together a better world for our young generations!
That is why, dear members of Congress and all of you present here today, we ought to preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East. Christianity itself is at stake, not just Eastern Christians.
       Thank you!


[1]But, cf. the Beatitudes: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

[2]1435 years  by the Muslims reckoning,or 1392 years by the Christian calendar.