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The Holy Synod, presided by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of the Holy See of Antioch and all the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church in the World, convened at St. Jacob Baradeus’ Convent in Atchaneh-Bikfaya, Lebanon, from September 10th till the 14th.The opening session started with prayers and supplications to the Lord for blessing the Holy Synod and allowing it to convene in Atchaneh, where once before the Holy Synod convened in 1971.Present from all over the world were their Eminences, Archbishops and Bishops, of the Apostolic See of Antioch. They discussed the situation of the Church in general and the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, where people are experiencing difficult times. The Hierarchs prayed for peace and tranquility to dwell there for all denominations, faiths and religions. They also prayed for mercy and eternal rest for the souls of the victims who died, healing for those afflicted with wounds or infirmities and for the gathering of those who have been displaced and forced out of their homes.The holy fathers stressed on the fact that the Middle East countries ARE our homeland that we are proud to belong to, where our Lord and God was born and raised. Our forefathers lived there from ancient times. They were the ones who established the first civilizations of the world. Today we share with our brothers and sisters the same life and destiny. We are filled with sorrow for the immense catastrophes, troubles, instabilities and violence that people face, especially loss of life and violations of human dignity, places of worship and religious, social and national institutions.It pains the Church fathers to see what is happening in Beloved Syria, which carries our name and embraces our civilization and heritage. It likewise embraces the Apostolic See of Antioch. They prayed for stability and peace for people and institutions.The Holy Synod feels the responsibility of all parties to stop violence, the language of weapons, killings and violations at all levels. They urge everyone to promote the dialogue of peace, which is basic for all reforms and solutions of the current crises. In this regard, they wish to affirm that the only official speaker on behalf of the Syrian Orthodox Church is the Holy Synod, headed by the Patriarch, who represents our Church and people in local, regional and international arenas throughout the world.The Church fathers are convinced that the best service men of good conscience and good will can offer is prayer and supplications to God Almighty, to ease the difficult times peoples of this area are going through, and to bring back home the refugees and displaced families; for immigrations from our countries are a killing hemorrhage that erases our identity and threatens our existence in the land of our forefathers and destroys our authentic heritage.
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