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Speech of Patriarch John X
In the general assembly of the Antiochian Convention in America
Boston, 23 July 2015
Six-year-old Samir will never forget that moment when his entire world was turned upside down. The flames which destroyed his home in Homs, Syria, also ruined his childhood. He escaped two months ago with his family and found shelter in the Wadi An-Nassara. His body and face are badly burned. His pain is unspeakable. This little boy has lost the power of speech and is just starting to learn his first words again, as if he had never spoken before. When their home in Homs was hit by a rocket, Samir’s parents could not manage to take their son out in time. With a look of despair and profound sadness, Samir’s mother describes how he is psychologically affected. “He cries all night. He is scared of everything. He feels hopeless when his parents leave him for just one second,” she explains. This family is living in extremely tough conditions and immense lack of basic needs. Our Patriarchal Department for Humanitarian Relief found that Samir’s pain goes, indeed, beyond his burns. His emotional pain includes traumatic fear and grief.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ
I am so happy to be among you. And I take the opportunity to greet all of you expressing the love of the one and unique Antiochian Church. Such a church extends their wings over the sea drawing an eternal image of its testimony to Jesus Christ in all the world.
“O Antioch lift up your eyes and look around for your sons came like the pearls shining with the light of God from the West and the North from the sea and the East, glorifying Jesus Christ in you to the ages of ages”
Seeing what is happening in the East, I would start declaring that it is such an irony; how the fate of our Orient is to conduct memorabilia of massacres, stamping the memory of history with fire, whereas he was born to write it with light.
Over sixty years have passed on the adoption of “Human Rights Declaration” following two fierce wars that claimed the lives of millions. After all these years, and the expensive bills that were paid, we rediscover that what was written on paper remained on paper and that innocent blood and the right of humans to live in peace are the cheapest in the game of nations.
Why do we say this? It is because our current era, beloved brothers, witness the killing of man under different titles. There are disarrangements of states boarders, slavery to the weaponry market, and tremble under the attacks of terrorism. There is the use of slogans, which are great in principle, but they are being used to disturb secure living. It is my right as an Oriental to live in security. It is my right that my children do not starve and to go to school. It is my right that my boarders are secure and to celebrate a peaceful history in this our land and to have it as an example for the present and a hope to the near and far future.
We are here today, to tell the world that Christians are kneaded with the soil of our land. Christians are a piece of our homeland heart, and it is a piece of theirs. We are aware that the victor writes the face of history, but we also know that the untruthful history is reviled by Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified on the cross of glory.
We do not fear the testimony for Jesus Christ in every time and place; however, we are people of peace and the product of the peace Inventor. We have Metropolitans and priests who had been kidnapped for more than two years now, within a suspicious and shameful International silence. They are the Metropolitans of Aleppo Youhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazji. We have priests, monks, nuns, people and martyrs their only crime is that they hold the entity of Christianity. We have brothers who were forced to immigrate, others obliged to pay tributes. We have people carrying their lives over their hands whilst living within the rockets range, which did not spare a school nor civilians, nor military people in Damascus and all around Syria. We have in Lebanon a country moaning under the exterior forces and conflicts living under the constitutional void and flames of kidnapping as well.
We are not talking about protection of Christians as if Christians are factional, isolated from others. We emphasize and say that protecting Christians and everyone else happens through establishing peace in their land. Protecting the Orient, happens through planting olives and empowering the peace foundations and not through aircrafts and providing weapons to attack unarmed civilians. Protecting the East and its people happens through turning off the fire of wars. Protecting this land happens through looking with humanitarian eye to all what is happening not in the eye of interests.
From here, from this place, I raise my voice east and west and I say to all the world. Let us live, let our people live, and do not make our land a circuit of conflicts. What is happening in our land is a blind terrorism that we are not used to.
Beloved in Christ,
We do not fear because we are proud of you. We are proud of our archdiocese, of our church in North America and Canada. We are a one and united church. You are inside the heart of Antioch, and Antioch is in your heart. As one family and one body, we proclaim with the Apostle Paul:
"Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?" (2 Cor. 11:29)
"If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (1 Cor. 12: 26)
However, and in spite all this, we have the face of Christ as our strength in all times. We have faith in Him that cannot be buried by any force. We have pride we obtain from the arms of our youth and from the spark of their eyes that highly believe that the Lord in the yeast of their souls and that they remain in their land no matter how the waves of injustice tried otherwise.
Sayedna Joseph, May the Lord bless you and grant you many years.
My dear bishops in our archdiocese, may the lord protect and strengthen you.
God bless you all, dear priests, deacons, clergy and all our people.
May the apostolic blessing accompany the archdiocese of New York and All North America, who gave us this platform to deliver through it the sound of pain but also the strength of resurrection hope in the middle of all the sufferings going on our homeland.
"For, I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you" (2 Cor. 2: 4)
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