On Sunday, I read in the pastoral letter, published in an-Nahar, that Patriarch John X, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All The East, conveyed to his sons and fellow believers on Palm Sunday.
“We are not willing to accept what our humans are being subjected to today,” he said, “and we seek to have our rejection of this reality be a mirror of our faith. We reject and condemn this reality, and we are afraid of no one who resorts to violence because we are the sons of resurrection. Murder, abduction and demolishment of our institutions will not lessen our determination to hold on to our citizenship, co-existence and land and to call for truth and justice amongst us. Therefore, each one of us, whether in the Antioch area or not, is called upon to…express his concern and his rejection of how things are going [but] without taking any political sides. The issue of Christianity is that of the human because our God was embodied for its salvation.”
You are today at a fateful fork in the road that you confront at the beginning of your patriarchal term. Your parish and church, the city fortified with spirit, awaits you, its faith unshakenNayla Tueni
Dear Patriarch John X, on this day in this sacred great week, we stand by you and we voice our support to you in what you sought to achieve ever since you were assigned, as you dissociated the church and its believers from struggles. Your voice was the voice of the conscious for the hurt, hungry, lost and displaced human being.
But sir, we also feel your sadness for the abduction of a dignified priest, who is also your brother. And we also sense your confirmation that the church is a fortified city that considers uttering the truth across the entire world as a must because the fate of the Levant’s Christians is no longer only linked to Lebanon’s Maronites but it has also become linked to Orthodox, Catholics, Syriacs and Armenians in Syria. This is because the vanishing of all of the latter in Syria will not benefit Lebanon’s Christians in anything and Lebanon will not be able to house all the patriarchies displaced from Antioch to Damascus and then Beirut.
A call to work with the world
The international community is currently called upon to intervene in Syria to finalize the situation and find a new structure for the system, or rather establish a new system. And you sir are called upon today to work with the international community just like Patriarch Elias al-Hoawyek did during a phase of Lebanon’s history. You are called upon to work towards establishing a new state and not a state of this corrosive regime, or the state of the al-Nusra Front, but the state of citizenship and human rights.
Sir, you realize what role the international community plays in pushing towards wars or achieving peace. You are today at a fateful fork in the road that you confront at the beginning of your patriarchal term. Your parish and church, the city fortified with spirit, awaits you, its faith unshaken. But this faith is more beneficial in the Antioch land than in any other as its roots lie here.
Sir, push the church towards granting the issue of refugees top priority and towards looking after the afflicted in Syria. It is via these actions that your statement “the issue of Christianity is that of the human because our God was embodied for its salvation,” will be confirmed to us.
Dear Patriarch, we extend all our love to you during this era of resurrection.
This article was first published in Lebanese An-Nahar on April 29, 2013.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni