Saturday, November 1, 2014

Joint Statement by the Churches of Antioch and Greece on Patriarch John X's Visit

Arabic original here. This translation is unofficial.

Joint Statement on the Occasion of the Irenic Visit of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, to the Church of Greece, October 23-27, 2014

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East conducted his irenic first visit to the Church of Greece from October 23 to 27 at the invitation of His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, accompanied by a delegation of Antiochian bishops, priests, deacons and laity.

During the visit, His Beatitude was informed by Archbishop Ieronymos II and the members of the Synod of the Church of Greece about the current state of the Greek Church, which is experiencing remarkable growth and a radiant spiritual life. They also examined the suffering of the Greek people, who are suffering from severe economic distress, which is threatening people's livelihood. His Beatitude and the Antiochian delegation likewise assessed the efforts being undertaken by the Greek Orthodox Church through Apostoliki Diakonia to serve the needy, anoint the wounds of the suffering, and console the sorrowing. They prayed for its leaders and benefactors, that God may grant them further grace and blessings and strengthen them in the service of Jesus' little brothers. Their Beatitudes then prayed that God may strengthen the Greek people to get through this crisis and to continue to have the generosity and honor that have distinguished them throughout history.

While he attended an extraordinary session of the Synod of the Church of Greece, His Beatitude and the accompanying delegation examined with their brothers how to make shared cooperation between the two sister churches effective at the pastoral, theological and social levels. They assessed the ongoing cooperation that exists between their two churches on the one hand, and between the Church of Antioch and the Greek state on the other hand, by exchanging common experiences at the level of theological studies. They expressed their aspiration for ongoing cooperation in the scholarly and cultural fields and in the field of Greek language instruction, a a common Orthodox witness in today's world.

The two sides agreed on the necessity of proper preparation for the Great and Holy Council that is to be held in the city of Istanbul (Constantinople) in 2016. They stressed the necessity of eliminating all impediments that might impede its being held. His Beatitude the Patriarch of Antioch asked both the Church of Greece and the Greek Foreign Ministry to continue their mediation in order to find a solution to the crisis concocted by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem between herself and the Patriarchate of Antioch, so that this problem will not constitute an impediment to holding the Great and Holy Council.

Concern for the Christians of the Middle East, especially the children of the See of Antioch in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq was not absent from His Beatitude's meeting with the Holy Synod of Greece. His Beatitude also bore this concern to His Excellency the President of Greece, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, informing them about the suffering of Christians who are weighed down by the horror of terrorism, takfirism, lack of freedom, and the obstruction of prospects for a peaceful solution in their region. His Beatitude stated that this region is being buffeted by interests of nations in changing its borders, obliterating its civilization and dividing up its wealth, exploiting the peoples of the region, with their various religions, sects and affiliations as human shields and fuel to stoke the flames of these conflicts. In this regard, the Chuch of Greece expressed her bitterness over the position of developed countries toward everything that is happening today in the Middle East.

His Beatitude went over with all the officials whom he met the repercussions of the crisis that is sweeping the region for the Church and in particular for her children, whose homes, churches and monasteries have been destroyed and who themselves have been displaced. During their meetings, the heads of the two churches contemplated the bleeding wound of the Antiochian Church and expressed their profound pain on account of the kidnapping of Bishops Paul and Yuhanna of Aleppo over a year and a half ago. The peaceful history of this region has never known a tragedy like this. Even worse, the international community responds to the fate of the kidnapped bishops with a shameful silence that has had a painful impact on the faithful.

The fathers of the Greek Holy Synod and the officials met by His Beatitude assessed the positions and fixed principles of the Antiochian Church, which does not approach the crisis in the Middle East according to a narrow sectarian logic, but rather regards it as a war between the great powers of the world who are exploiting religion in their struggle. In this regard, the Archbishop of Greece said, "The Church of Greece has always been and will always be at the side of her sister, the Church of Antioch in her effort to stop the wars and spread peace with the goal of reconciliation between the country's inhabitants of various religions. You know very well that anyone who worships God the Creator does not desire this war that is unfortunately supported with extremist and intolerant ideas backed by foreign religious centers."

Syria and her wounds, Lebanon and her cares, Iraq and Palestine were present in the prayers of Their Beatitudes and those accompanying them in all the places that they visited, especially in the Church of Saint John the Russian on the island of Evia. During their celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Saint Demetrius the Myrrh-Streamer, they prayed that peace will prevail in these countries and that God will console their children and strengthen them during their time of trial.

In closing, His Beatitude thanked his brother, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and the Greek government and people for the warm reception, hospitality and good organization as well as for for the medal of honor granted to him by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, giving this award to all of his children in the See of Antioch who are suffering.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Patriarch John X's Words at the Divine Liturgy in Athens on October 26, 2014

Translation made from the Arabic version here.

The Words of Patriarch John X at the Divine Liturgy on October 26, 2014 in Athens, Greece

Your Beatitude,

Your Eminences,

"Christ is with us and among us." I say this today, beloved, greeting in you, Your Beatitude, every brother in the Church of Greece. I say this greeting your kind people. As I say this, two phrases are intertwined in my mind: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" and "in whom we live and move and have our being." "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" is well-known to the walls of Damascus, whose street called straight I come to you from. It was known to the Great City of God, Antioch, where the name "Christian" was first uttered. This phrase was engraved deeply in Saul's soul, transforming him into Paul. The spirit of Christ pulsed within him and he arrived here to Greece to bring the people of Athens the good news of their unknown God. He proclaimed His good news in words held by the ears of the Acropolis. He proclaimed the good news of Jesus, "in whom we live and move and have our being." I do not feel myself to be a stranger here, since I am, as my predecessor Elias IV of thrice-blessed memory said, "in the second church established by the Apostle Paul after the Church of Antioch."

I  come to you from Cilicia, which gave us the divine Paul, from the Antioch of Peter and Paul, from the country of Ignatius the God-Bearer, Theophilus and Chrysostom. I come to you from Damascus, which was baptized by Ananias and enlightened by John Damascene. I come to you from Seidnaya which borders heaven and from Maaloula, adopted daughter of Saint Thekla. I come to you from the Beirut of the Apostle Quartus and from Sidon where Jesus visited. I come to you from Aleppo, from the shadow of Simeon's pillar. I come to you from the Homs of Elian and Romanos the Melodist. I come to you from the lands that gave us the saint of repentance, Ephrem the Syrian. All of this is to say that we in Antioch bear the glory of Jesus' Church and we continue to bear it, despite all the difficulties, through the power of our faith in God, our hope in Him, the through the help and support of you, our brothers.

Yes, beloved, I also come to you bearing Antioch's agonies, agonies of people in Syria who demand a life with dignity. A people who are being killed and expelled from their homes. Their children are forced to flee into places without shelter. Their homes, churches and mosques are destroyed. Their children are starving and patients are dying on account of the exorbitant cost of medicine or the lack of care. A crucified people, greatly suffering from terrorism and takfirism. A people yearning-- and they have the right to yearn-- to return to safety first, and then to return to their homes. A people fearing for their fate and for the future of their children.

I come to you with a candle lit for Lebanon, which suffers under this Middle East's cross of misery. I come to you from Iraq, which has suffered and is suffering horrors. We bury all the horrors of this world at Golgotha, at the cross of our Lord. We cover them with the stone of His empty tomb. We forget all obstacles when we remember that our ancestors have been there for two thousand years and that their descendants remain there and shall remain there.

Because I bear the glory and the agony of Antioch, this qualifies me to say that Christians are an essential element of the identity and history of the Middle East. Without them, this region not only loses its identity, but also the particular quality of its cultural existence. This leads me to affirm that the bells of our churches, which have hung from time immemorial, will continue to ring in harmony with the mosques' call to prayer and the teachings of other religions. We Christians of this land were planted here and are rooted like the ceders in Lebanon. We shall remain like the olive trees of the Mount of Olives. There we were born and there we shall remain. We hold its soil to our breast when we depart for eternal life. Therefore, the exodus of Christians from the Middle East is the Middle East's exodus from it own history and being. Their estrangement from it is its estrangement from itself. My message here to the entire world is: stopping the hemorrhaging of Christians in the Middle East depends on efforts to establish peace there. The entire international community and governments must play the role needed of them in order to bring peace, stop acts of terrorism against unarmed civilians and obtain the release of those who have been abducted, especially Metropolitans Yuhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, who were kidnapped more than a year and a half ago amidst a terrifying international silence and commitment to interests at the expense of commitment to humanity.

Between Antioch and Athens there is brotherhood of faith and bonds of history. Between them the logic of debt melts away and is replaced by the logic of sincere, mutually-supportive brotherhood. I have known you personally, Your Beatitude, and I have known in you a dear brother who visited our Church and our homes at a time when many were leaving them during the last days of Patriarch Ignatius. I knew your predecessors Christophoros and Seraphim of thrice-blessed memory. I received my theological education in your country and I lived in its monasteries, where I saw how theology is kneaded with the leaven of humility and becomes incarnate as love and prayer. The Church of Greece has given much to the Church of Antioch. She has welcomed many of our children, opening to them the doors of her institutes and universities and graduating from them priests and bishops to pastor Christ's people in their lands. The Church of Greece has especially accompanied Antiochian Orthodoxy's entrance into the modern era. Balamand is the best evidence for this. The Institute of Theology was launched in 1970 and Antioch benefited from Greek expertise, entrusting leadership of the Institute to Metropolitan Pandeleimon Rhodopoulos. The Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology was tied to the Church of Greece which supported it with her best professors and with Greek language programs. The Greek government also contributed, granting our students the opportunity to come to study theology in the language of the fathers. All of this qualifies us to say that that which unites us to Greece as a country and people is a yearning for apostolic zeal for one, Catholic Orthodox faith, where ethnicities melt in the crucible of Orthodoxy and where different languages and customs are interwoven before the Eucharistic table and its Lord who spoke to us in the language of love, which is poured out upon the pages of His Gospel, which used the language of the time, Greek, to make a home for the Lord in people's hearts.

Brothers, at the level of Orthodoxy, we stand before a great test, the Great Orthodox Council that is to be held in two years. Because we desire the success of this council, we will say that it is important to us that this council issue decisions that go beyond the ordering of sees. It is important to us that it touch on issues of life and faith that not only theologians and researchers-- with all the respect that we have for them all-- but as many segments of society as possible. It is important to us that the council be an embodiment of what we call Orthodoxy. For this reason we are careful to resolve all the disagreements that might prevent brothers from sitting down together, perhaps the most serious of which being the issue of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's intervention in Qatar and their sending an "archbishop" into Antiochian territory. It is important to us that the council address an issue that is no less important than anything else on the agendas, the issue of Middle Eastern Christianity, which has come to the forefront after the changes that occurred in 2011 in the so-called "Arab Spring". Why must we always watch history as observers instead of acting in it, especially when Orthodoxy in our days is not without strength? Let us go back a hundred years and look at what happened to the demographics of the four Orthodox patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Do the last hundred years and the events of the past three years not call for putting ways to secure Christians in their first homes as the first item on the agenda of the Great Council? Here we are not thinking of worldly glory, since we have no lasting home. However, we have an identity and it must remain.

The success of this council is a single Orthodox witness in today's world. This witness is also the first brick of Christian witness in today's world. We in Antioch are Greek Orthodoxy's gateway to the non-Chalcedonian Churches. What brings us together with these churches is greater than what separates us. We hope and we constantly work so that everyone will come to understand that the logic of geography, history and present theological reality make it imperative for us to draw closer together and actively strive to eliminate all the dross of history. The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is also Orthodoxy's gateway to the Arab and Islamic world on account of factors of history, geography and language. This gateway is part of the great Orthodox body whose head is Christ and whose heart is the faith passed down to us by His pure Apostles.

In my name and in the name of the delegation accompanying me, I would like to address greetings to President Karolos Papoulias and to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, lifting up my prayer to the Lord that He will bless their efforts for the good of Greece.

In closing, I thank you, Your Beatitude, and I pray with you for Greece, which is so dear to our hearts. May God remove every distress from this good people and may He crown your efforts in the service of the people of this country with success. We ask you, in the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch to "pray for the church that is in Antioch and that is watched over by Christ and your love." We ask God most high to send His peace to hearts and to give us an opportunity to welcome you to Syria and Lebanon.

And, once more, Christ is with us and among us. He was, He is and He shall be.

Fr Georges Massouh: When Our Religions Enslave Us

Arabic original here.

When Our Religions Enslave Us

Religious people in general all agree that religions were founded for man, not man for religions. Man is the summit of creation and the noblest of creatures, God created him "in his image and likeness", made him His "vicegerent on earth" and entrusted him with the entire world.

Let us also not forget that man existed for millions of years before the appearance of religions. Man alone, among all the visible creatures, has been promised eternal life by God. Everything will pass away, say the religions, and nothing will remain except for God and those humans He has chosen to live in His presence forever. Then, even the religions, laws and commandments will pass away, because in the presence of God they are pointless.

Nevertheless, historical realities are not so glorious as the intentions of foundational texts and theological theories. History shows us how concepts have been turned on their head. Instead of being the central point of concern for those in charge of religions, man has become a pliable tool in the hands of religious decision-makers. They have exploited religious sentiments among their followers and manipulated them, under the guise of defending religion, in the service of their political  or military alliances with the princes of this world.

Religions, which were founded in principle for the service of man, make man their servant when they transform into ideologies that must be defended at any price. The conflicts that we have seen over the course of history until today have religion as their basic motivating force, under whose banners wars have been waged between nations or within a single country.

In all these wars, man has been crushed in the name of religions. Instead of being master over creation, like God intended, he became a servant to his religious institution through its clergy, jurists, priests and leaders. Man has become a slave to his sheikh and his teacher, like a disciple who has no will of his own, like a ring on the finger of his master. Man became the means instead of the end. Man's death for the sake of religion is the end and it came to no longer be the case that the end is life for man's sake.

As for us Lebanese, we are not different from this description. People are provoked over time in order to protect the honor of the sect or religion. The sect's glory or the religion's honor deserve to have lives sacrificed for their sake. Instead of God being the object of veneration and worship, the religious sect takes God's place. Shirk is not only when one takes another god besides God. Shirk is also when sect or dogma becomes an object of worship alongside God. God created man free, but man enslaves himself of his own will to his religion and its dogmas.

Man is in a state of idolatry, in a state of slavery. He can only be saved from it by reconsidering reason, something praised by all religious texts. Instead of reason, ignorance and superstition prevail. Instead of building the future, the return to a distant past prevails, and the evocation of conflicts.

If religious discourse remains as it is today, inflammatory and divisive for the sake of boosting religions or sects, then people will lose more and more of their humanity that God created them with. Religions will not have any true meaning if people are not liberated from worshiping them and religion does not return to God alone who has no partner.

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Interview with Patriarch John X in Greece

Greek original here.

Patriarch of Antioch: "The Jihadists are a Foreign Body"

Interview with Maria Antoniades | VIMA

In his interview with VIMA, Patriarch John of Antioch highlighted the necessity of international mobilization for peace in the Middle East and the release of the two bishops of Aleppo who were kidnapped 18 months ago on the Turkish-Syrian border. The primate of the Church of Antioch, based in Damascus, lives these tragic circumstances every day and characterizes the two kidnapped bishops as "apostles of peace." Even more tragic is that the drama of the kidnapping takes place within his family, as one of the two abducted hierarchs is not only his spiritual brother, but his brother according to the flesh. "They do not frighten us," he stressed and expressed his love for the Greeks shortly before his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Patriarch John, who has been on an official visit to the Church of Greece last Thursday as part of the customary eirenical visits as a new primate, is having ongoing meetings with with Archbishop Ieronymos and in the coming days will visit Mount Athos, where he lived during his studies in Greece.

Your Beatitude, you are coming from the most troubled region in the world right now. What is the situation of the Christians in the Middle East?

 First, I want to express all the love, joy and honor I feel to be in Greece. We in the Patriarchate of Antioch, in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, throughout the region, as you know we very much love Greece and the Greek people and we wish you the best. Greece is a beloved place for us. We are living in very difficult conditions. Particularly in Syria, churches, mosques, shrines and monasteries have been destroyed, but our faithful Orthodox Christians remain there. They still live there. We are about 1.5 million Christians in Syria, where we live in every city. And we are living normally, despite the difficulties. We bear them and hope that this cloud will pass as quickly as possible.

Two tears ago, when leaders of the Patriarchate of Antioch stated that the jihadists have nothing to do with the tradition of Islam in the Middle East, many people listened attentively to these statements.

It is a foreign spirit. There was never such a spirit in Syria or in Lebanon. Sadly, this phenomenon has come from outside and certain major powers bear some responsibility for this. This extremist phenomenon, which has reached the point of them killing each other in God's name, had never existed.  It is not accepted by anyone. Neither do Muslims accept it.

Do the Muslims also have problems?

Everyone has. Syria has, Lebanon has. All inhabitants do. All the population, Christians and Muslims. And we as a Patriarchate, you know, we always say that we come from these places. We were born there. Our fathers were there and our grandfathers. We were there before Islam, together with Islam and after Islam. We always say that we all have a common history and a common future. Whatever happens to one happens to the other. For this reason we stress that we all belong to the same country. We have the same rights, every Christian and every Muslim. And you know that in Syria, the Christian feasts, Easter and Christmas, are official holidays...

Those people are fanatics. They are a foreign body. We as a Patriarchate tell the truth. There are special interests. If something happens to an Israeli soldier, then the whole world rises up, but if there are other victims, then there is silence...

Your Beatitude, you have a brother who...

There is  my brother and another bishop. Two bishops from Aleppo who were kidnapped a year and a half ago and the whole world keeps silent. They don't know anything, they say. No country says what is happening. Who knows about this story! Both are lost.

At the same time, we are all talking about human rights. Where are people's rights when you do not speak out? When do you not say a single word about such an issue? And if there are some people who think that such an event will frighten us Christians because they are kidnapping and disappearing our bishops, our priests and members of the Christian communities, they should know that these threats do not frighten us.

Orthodox nuns were also kidnapped.

After six months they were released and returned to the monastery.

What moved you about what they experienced?

These things are not spoken of. They are a matter of monastics' confession to their pastor.

Your Beatitude, what would you wish, how do you see the future of Christians from now on?

We always have hope. We remain standing and strong despite the trials. We do not want to repeat what happened in Iraq, where the Christians slowly started to disappear. Where there had lived 1.5 million Christians, today 300,000 live in the country.

I understand from what you are saying to VIMA, you want an international mobilization to protect the Christians in the Middle East and rescue the two bishops.

This is the main thing that must be done. We need help and support. The two hierarchs are apostles of peace and we hope that their physical condition is good and that we will be together soon.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day One of Patriarch John X's Visit to Greece

Yesterday, October 23, 2014, Patriarch John X began his official visit to Greece, the third of his official eirenical visits after those to Constantinople and Moscow.

Arabic version of this speech here. Video of Patriarch John delivering it in Greek here.

Patriarch John X's Words at the Prayer of Thanksgiving in Athens on October 23, 2014

Your Beatitude,
Brothers and loved ones,
I am happy to be among you.

This is a visit of peace, peace of the heart  from me to each one of you. Peace to you, Your Beatitude and brother bishops, in my name and in the name of the delegation accompanying me. Peace to you and through you to every individual and every place in Greece. Peace of love from the people of our lands that have been and continue to be wounded by the tumult of wars. Peace from your brothers, the faithful of the Church of Antioch. Peace from victims of kidnapping, martyrs and people expelled from their homes. Peace from our brothers and your brothers, the kidnapped bishops and priests of Aleppo. Peace and a prayer for your kind people and country. Peace of resurrection from the ashes of trial while at the very same time it is a peace of will, hope, determination and conviction that no power on this earth will uproot us from our land, that we cast all our hardships before the cross of our Savior and place them before His crown of thorns.

I have known you personally, Your Beatitude, and I have known you as a dear brother who has visited our Church and our monasteries at a time when many were leaving, during the last days of the reign of Patriarch Ignatius. I knew your predecessors Christodoulos and Seraphim of blessed memory. I received my theological education in your country. I lived in its monasteries and I saw how theology is leavened with the leaven of humility and becomes incarnate as love and prayer.

The Church of Greece has given much to the Church of Antioch She has welcomed many of our children, opening to them the doors of her institutes and universities and graduating from them priests and bishops to pastor Christ's people in their lands. The Church of Greece has especially accompanied Antiochian Orthodoxy's entrance into the modern era.

Balamand is the best evidence for this. The Institute of Theology was launched in 1970 and Antioch benefited from Greek expertise, entrusting leadership of the Institute to Metropolitan Pandeleimon Rhodopoulos. The Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology was tied to the Church of Greece which supported it with her best professors and with Greek language programs. The Greek government also contributed, granting our students the opportunity to come to study theology in the language of the fathers. All of this qualifies us to say that that which unites us to Greece as a country and people is a yearning for apostolic zeal for one, Catholic Orthodox faith, where ethnicities melt in the crucible of Orthodoxy and where different languages and customs are interwoven before the Eucharistic table and its Lord who spoke to us in the language of love.

In the language of love I close today by asking the mighty Lord to preserve you and to preserve Greece and her kind people and that He may take her leaders by the hand and guide them to what is good for her people.

I likewise ask Him to give the lands of Antioch peace so she might welcome you with her kind people who have been endowed with the love of the saints, the remembrance of the Apostles, and the achievements of martyrs, ancient and new.

Many years, Master.

Coverage of Patriarch John's day from by Emilios Polygeni. Go to the links for many pictures..

Greek original here.

Archbishop to Patriarch, "We welcome you as a brother and a witness"

Patriarch John of Antioch began his eirenical visit to the Church of Greece today October 23, 2014, arriving at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport.

Patriarch John was welcomed at the airport by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Peristeri, president of the Synodal Commission for Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Christian Relations of the Church of Greece, a representative of the Greek government, the ambassador of Lebanon, and other church and civil officials.

Then, at 11:50 at the Church of Saint Andrew the First-Called, located on the grounds of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, a prayer of thanksgiving was celebrated for the arrival in Greece of Patriarch John of Antioch and his entourage.

The Archbishop welcomed the Patriarch and others and said, "We welcome you as a brother and as a witness who is to give a Christian witness, an Orthodox witness, a witness of faith."

Archbishop Ieronymos also said, "You are with us here today at a time of persecution, of abuse of human rights, to declare to civilized Europe and international organizations that that you are still on your feet and you have not lost your faith in Christ, that Antioch and Damascus continue to shine out into the world."

The Archbishop concluded, "The Athens of the saints, of the martyrs and heroes, welcomes you as an angel of peace, as a witness to Christ, and as a fighter for the saints and heroes, our Christian brothers, our brothers in the Middle East."

Greek original here

Archbishop Ieronymos, "National bonds are good, but what unites us is Christ"

Patriarch John of Antioch has just visited Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens. The primate of the Church of Antioch was warmly welcomed by Archbishop Ieronymos, who received him in his office. There the Archbishop welcomed the Patriarch, stressing, among other things, "I welcome you to Greece and to the Holy Archdiocese of Athens."

Then the Patriarch of Antioch reported on relations between the two churches and the difficulties experienced in Syria. For his part, Archbishop Ieronymos said, "Your visit brings us a message that love is not something theoretical. Rather, love is actions. It is experience and that is exactly what we we fell right now, that we are one family."

"National bonds are good and we do not deny them, but above all else we have the One who unites us, Jesus Christ. All other things are ideologies. Ideologies come and go, creating huge problems. Our faith, our Christianity, our love, our fathers, what they taught us is the experience of the Church and it is precisely what we are living right now," the Archbishop added.

In conclusion, Archbishop Ieronymos said, "We want to thank you for traveling from your region, which is experiencing a great hardship at this time, but we here are also experiencing difficulties of another form."

Finally it should be noted that Patriarch John of Antioch signed the guest-book.

Greek original here.

The Patriarch of Antioch at the Areios Pagos

His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch, who is making an official irenical visit to the Church of Greece, has just visited the Areios Pagos. The Primate of the Church of Antioch came to the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis accompanied by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece and his entourage. There Patriarch John went up the Hill of Pnyx and toured the site where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians.

Melkite Catholic Bishop Nicholas Samra on Catholic-Orthodox Relations in the Middle East (Video)

I'm not sure where Bishop Samra gets his ideas about the history of the use of Arabic in Antioch, which was much more deeply-rooted and earlier than he makes it sound, but this talk is still very much worth listening to in terms of how he sees contemporary Orthodox-Catholic relations in the Middle East, especially some of what comes up in the Q&A at the end.