“We are bells of love and a prayer from a minaret…


p1His Beatitude’s Speech
in the Antiochian Metochion,



Your Eminence,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like, while gathering around this agape, to thank our beloved brother, His Eminence Niphon, our representative in Moscow in front of His Holiness Kirill, who gave us the chance to meet you in this house full of history, which reflects the depth of our friendship between the Patriarchate of Moscow and that of Antioch at the middle of the 19th century. This house, like its parallel in Damascus, is the ambassador of the Russian-Antiochian love. It testifies the deep relationship between Antioch and Russia, offering too many services for the Church and the country.

Our Christianity does not mean just a mutual relationship between two Churches, like Antioch and Moscow, but a leaven that leavens the whole lump of our people in the Russian and Antiochian space in order to serve the Man.

This Christianity does not realize just itself, does not shrink or cave based on religious or racial considerations, but after the example of its Lord, it spreads its arm toward everyone, inviting them to hold the responsibility of the whole humanity. 

Our Christianity, according to its history, is called, as always, to create a kind of compromise between all channels. This of course does not mean losing its identity and particularity and the teachings of its Lord, but to use this identity and particularity to combine all the components of our countries in the crucible of humanity and the common good.

The Christianity in Antioch, with its Eastern particularity, sees in the face of our relative the face of Jesus Christ Himself. Its altar is the altar of the poor and the needy. Its Eastern particularity determined it to exceed the borders of our countries in the East to look farther to the concerns of the whole Orient. That is why it carries the concerns of its individual, offering its prayers and efforts to the Creator in order to remove the burden of Man’s concerns.

Today is an occasion to emphasize again, in front of you, that our Antiochian Church was and will remain the daughter of that land, a daughter of its concerns and problems.

We are a Church with an Orthodox identity, Eastern passion, loyal to our nation. We believe in dialogue for its existence.

hb-an“Our loyalty to our countries made us a part of the first row of those who have been classified at the beginning of the 20th century as the “Arab Liberation Movement” that included Muslims and Christians. This national loyalty in our Orthodox Church of Antioch finds its echo in the historical role which our Church played and still”

We, Muslims and Christians, are brothers-in-land in our land.

We are brothers-in-history, and united in geography.

We are bells of love and a prayer from a minaret that calls for tolerance. We absorb our past and present, and stamp our future with the principles of coexistence”. Our heart beats proclaiming that religion has never been a factor of discrimination, but a way for unity.

Basing on the fact that the homeland belongs to everyone, and that we are entrusted to keep the unity of its land and the good of its individual, we, the Christians of the East, are clinging to our country and rooted in it, and from its soil we smell the perfume of our ancestors, in it we implant the seed of faith in God and in Country inside our children’s hearts, so it may grow in the faith in God and in the love of the country.  

We are longing to see Syria as a country of peace, a place of tranquility. And it is our right to look at it in this way. Our pride in Syria and Lebanon and their civilizations does not mean that we wear the dress of past and live in the memories of the history, but showing the glow of their civilizations despite the leavings of the history.

Syria has been and will remain the country of the coexistence and for a real fraternity. And what is going on their now is strange of its near and distant past.

Syria has never been enslaved to anyone, and will never be enslaved to terrorism and expiation or to any ideological extremism. Syria, that born Fars Al-Khury, Shukry Al-Kuatly and Khalil Mardam-Bek rejects all the logic of conflict, and gets pleased seeing its children gathering for a honest dialogue, looking for a political solution that keeps it united and strong. Moreover, the whole world Is called to work in the case of the refugees and the abducted, doing serious efforts in this field. 

We, the Church of Antioch, the children of that land, we have martyrs, displaced and abducted people. We have bishops, priests, nuns, sons and daughters that are paying a huge price for what is happening. The case of the abducted, among them our brothers John and Paul, the priests, Mother Pelaghia and the nuns and the orphans of Maaloula’s monastery, they all are the responsibility of the international society and the governmental and non-governmental organizations, from which part we are waiting deeds accompanied with sayings, that may lead to release them.

As for Lebanon, it is the heart of our Christianity and the lung of our East which breaths openly toward the East and the West. Lebanon of Jubran and Michael Nu’aimeh, it is the country of the letter, of the culture and dialogue in the memory of our people and of the whole world. Lebanon is invited to raise the logic of dialogue instead of the logic of depending on others’ guardianship.  

We are all invited in Lebanon to work as the writer of its national anthem, Rasheed Nakhle: “All of us! For the country, for the flag and the glory!”. But when we seek the good of Lebanon, we care about its individual, its security and stability, leaving our selfishness to raise Lebanon above. Rasheed Nakhle told the truth when saying: “the heart of our East is Lebanon”, and as long as the heart is healthy, the whole East remains healthy, as well.

Hence, I raise my prayer for Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, the entire East and the whole world. I pray always for Your Holiness, for the good Russian people, who are fond on the memory of holiness and embraces Antioch which embraces it in return with intimacy.

I conclude my speech using the words of His Eminence Anthony, the Archbishop of Volyn on 20 February, 1913 when He addressed our ancestor Patriarch Gregory, who was in a visit to Russia at that time. These words sum up my impression for being in Russia close to these good people. He said: “the characteristic of the Russian people is to kneel, not in front of a terrestrial greatness, but in front of the spiritual greatness, sanctified since the past by the Grace. Here they do not honor the rank of a hierarch because of its unity with majesty and richness, but for its unity with the efforts, with pain and self-denial.  

May God protect you all, Russia, the East and the whole world.