What follows is the statement given by the Melkite Patriarch of Lebanon and Syria – His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III – on the eve of the Geneva 2 Conference. The Patriarch is (amongst other things) Mother Agnes’ boss.
On the occasion of the holding of the Geneva 2 Conference for peace in Syria, as president of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria, I have just written a prayer appeal for that Conference’s success.
Now I should like to express my good wishes for the success of that Conference, together with the following considerations.
1- Prayers will be raised in every home in Syria for the success of the Geneva 2 Conference, for the peace that comes from Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace. Peace is one of God’s names in the Qur’an. Peace is the programme of the Christmas Feast for all humanity: “Glory to God in the highest! On earth peace, good will towards men!” That could really be a good programme for Geneva 2.
2- We pray for genuine reconciliation among all Syrians at Geneva 2, not only for security arrangements and much needed humanitarian aid, but also for a much needed human, cordial, national, really Syrian reconciliation of faith, which is crucial to the success of Geneva 2.
3- We pray for a united stance at Geneva 2 from the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the European Union, (especially France, Great Britain and Germany) and China and Iran! This western and eastern unity is the warranty for the success of Geneva
4- Such unity will be capable of engendering the Arab unity that is so necessary for Geneva 2’s success! We pray for this unity.
5- This dual international and Arab unity is the warranty for the success of Geneva 2 and is the real way to halt the influx of weapons to the armed foreign groups in Syria and to the whole region. Seeking for peace rules out sending weapons, for peace has no need of weapons.
6- We long and pray for the peace to be Syrian, though we are grateful to all those countries who are working for that Syrian peace! Their efforts should be concentrated on obtaining a peace that is really Syrian, for that would be true peace and the best and most suitable for all parties to the conflict and for all Syrians.
7- So the whole of Syria will become a church or sanctuary, with hands uplifted in prayer. This prayer is for all Syrians; praying for all those who are struggling, whatever their political orientation, inclination or adhesion! We are praying for everyone, so that everyone can make ready the way for Geneva 2’s success.
8- Yesterday (13 January) a meeting for the success of this Conference was held at the Vatican.
9- At the initiative of the World Council of Churches, a meeting will be held in Geneva (15-17 January 2014). Together with very many representatives of various Churches from around the world, I shall be taking part. We shall be discussing ideas about the role of the Church at this particular moment in history that is so significant, not only for Syria and the surrounding region, especially Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the Holy Land, Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… but for the whole Middle East and for world peace. We shall pray together, reflect together and then draw up a paper and launch a global appeal in the form of a spiritual, human, universal Christian message, especially to the participants in the Geneva 2 Conference: that will be our way of participating in the Conference.
10- Through this letter and initiative, we should like to highlight especially the role of Syria’s Christians and Churches in working together for peace, reconciliation, love, forgiveness, compassion, affection, solidarity, mutual support… a better future for Syria and the region!
11- Finally, I should also like to address an appeal for prayer for the success of the vote on the new constitution in Egypt, which will be put to the vote on 15 January, just on the eve of Geneva 2. I think that the consent of Egyptians to this constitution would also be an historic event of considerable significance and have an impact on the peace process, freedom, democracy, citizenship, living together, mutual acceptance of one another, mutual respect, Muslim-Christian dialogue, prosperity and progress in all the Arab countries that we love.
Let us pray: God of Peace, Grant peace to our countries!
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem