October 10, 2014 (Source: http://www.pravmir.com)
Originally reported on Oct. 09
What role does the Antiochian Orthodox Church play as a part of the social fabric of Syria? What has it done and what will it do?
To start, we would like to direct our warmest greetings to the Syrian people as a whole and our Muslim brothers in particular on the occasion of Eid el-Adha. Many happy returns.
The Patriarchate and our Orthodox Christian people are a fundamental part of our country. We are Syrians, the children of this nation. We were born here, as were our fathers and grandfathers. Christianity started out here and we feel that we are one family with all the country’s communities. Throughout history, the Patriarchate has been—and we hope it shall remain—a fundamental factor for common life in dignity, for reinforcing all the national and historical foundations that have brought us together ever since Christianity appeared in these lands. Ever since the coming of Islam, we have lived together and have built a common history. There is no doubt that our future is one.
NFTU: In an interview given to the Syrian newspaper al-Thawra Online, the ecumenist Patriarch of Antioch, John X Yazigi, re-iterates his belief in the brotherhood between Islam and Christianity. He states that, “Ever since the coming of Islam, we have lived together and have built a common history.” I suppose it is interesting to phrase the Islamic invasions in this manner. Abu Bakr, leader of the Rashidun Caliphate, certainly shed enough blood to think this was anything other than peaceful; I suppose the unprovoked Islamic invasion and bloody battles of Damascus, Antioch, the Iron Bridge, and many others, are just examples of ‘growing pains’ in the relationship between Islam and Christianity.
Pat. John then goes on to mention the Maryamiyya Church, which is the cathedral church of the See of Damascus. Though, after the Islamic forces took Damascus, they turned the church into a mosque, along with the Church of St. John Baptist (the current Ummayad Mosque). I suppose Pat. John believes the Christians should have been grateful that they were at least ‘allowed’ to keep some of their own churches; rather than having all of them seized by the Muslims. Perhaps centuries of Dhimmi thinking have subjected them to being constantly slavish in all matters to their Islamic masters.
Like Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Pat. John is enthusiastic about the celebration of Islamic feasts, such as Eid al-Adha. Pat. John talks about how Muslim and Christians together can ‘arrive at sound faith.’ But, if Pat. John believes in Orthodoxy he would realize that Sound Faith is Orthodoxy and there is absolutely no need to engage in any ecumenist and syncretist behaviour with Monophysites, Muslims, or any other non-Orthodox group to arrive at sound Faith; instead, it should be the duty of the Orthodoxy to proselytize among the Muslims, Monophysites, and others and convert them to Orthodoxy, instead of lauding the evils of Islamic power under the Caliphate and pretending as if the Dhimmi status was wonderful. But, sadly, this cannot be expected; the Antiochian Patriarchate, with the other Patriarchates, has long ago surrendered the Faith. We all remember the former Patriarch of Alexandria saying that Mohammed was a true Prophet of God and anyone who denied this was condemned by him. Or the incessant blasphemies that pour forth constantly from Met. George (Khodr) of Mt. Lebanon. The Middle East, unfortunately, has become a breeding group for not just the Islamic rise to power, but for trans-religious syncretism. The leaders of such movements are more and more becoming the so-called Christian patriarchs, who, perhaps out of real conviction and perhaps out of fear, have no interest in Orthodoxy.