The Middle East Council of Churches sessions have concluded the 12th General Assembly sessions which convened on May 16-20, 2022, under the title of “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27) at the Logos Papal Center in Wadi El Natrun, Egypt, with the participation of heads of Churches in the Middle East including the Eastern Orthodox family, the Orthodox family, the Catholic family, and the Evangelical family
The final statement issued by the heads of Churches, which was preceded by a minute of silence marking the martyrdom of Shireen Abu Aqleh, stressed the importance of supporting Churches and believers in Jerusalem, the duty to preserve the holy places, and reminding the international community and the peoples of the world of the importance of strengthening the Christian presence in the City of Peace.
The General Assembly elected presidents for four years, namely for the Eastern Orthodox family His Grace Bishop Anthony, Metropolitan of Jerusalem and the Near East for the Coptic Orthodox Church; for the Orthodox family His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox Church; for the Catholic family His Beatitude Raphael Pedros XXI Minassian, Catholicos, Patriarch of Cilicia for the Armenian Catholic Church; for the Evangelical Family His Excellency Reverend Dr. Paul Haidostian, President of the Federation of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.
The General Assembly confirmed the election of Secretary General of the Council Dr. Michel Abs and elected members of the new executive committee which included Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader, Director of the MECC office in Jordan Wafa’ Qsous, and Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and Amman Hosam Naoum.
In an address by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, he referred to the tense political situation in the Holy Land that has been very tense for several months particularly after the martyrdom of Shireen Abu Aqleh. He said, “The events around the martyrdom of the Christian Journalist created a rare moment of unity among all Palestinian people, and a moment of euphoria in the powerful demonstration during the disputed funeral. After many years, finally the Palestinian issue was back in the media.”
His Beatitude pointed out that last Monday, the Christian Churches of Jerusalem condemned the aggression of the police against Shireen Abu Aqleh’s pallbearers in the Catholic Hospital of St. Joseph. He said that the question of Jerusalem and her future is now at stake, and we as Christian Churches cannot remain silent. He stressed that the Holy City has a Christian character that has to be preserved and remain visible and respecte and the Christian voice about Jerusalem needs to be heard and listened to.
On the sidelines of the General Assembly sessions, Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawadros I met with Patriarch Pizzaballa, in the presence of Fr. Rif’at Bader, during which discussions focused on the importance of the Christian pilgrimage from Egypt to the historical holy sites in Jordan, especially the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ, the holy sites in Palestine the most importat of which is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.
By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org