The new Patriarch celebrated his 71st birthday yesterday. He is 44 years a priest and 15 years a bishop and a member of the Melkite Paulist Order.
Eis pollá eti Déspota!
Today, November 18th, the Roman Martyrology notes the liturgical remembrance of Patriarch Noah. Biblical history tells us that Noah was the son of Lamech, and ninth patriarch of the Sethite line, who, with his family, was saved in the Ark from the Deluge, dying 350 years later at the age of 950. Noah was the Father of Sem, Cham and Japhet.
In Western and Eastern Christianity we note that there is developing of “master-theme” of covenant with Noah as a method and a way to explain the relationship God has with humanity: a covenant is the deepening of what it means to belong to the family of God. With the person of Noah a new covenant was made with humanity by the image of a new creation formed after the great flood. In the flood God “rewrites” the original covenant made with Adam and Eve. It is God who completely obliterates, He drowns the blood line of Adam. Noah enters into a deeper relationship with God. Through Noah we have a man who “walked with God” and “found favor” with God, in many ways Noah is a new Adam.
In biblical theology, there are several covenants and a variety of meanings of what a covenant in the OT means. And, of course, the Catholics (and Orthodox) speak of a NEW, and unique covenant made by Jesus at the Last Supper. In brief, a covenant has, as Scott Hahn indicated, familial, legal and liturgical elements. The Last Supper has all of the elements of the past and a newness not seen before. But the point here is to look at Noah as a precursor to the Lord in generating something new and pointing beyond the “now.”
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read about The Covenant with Noah:
After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the “nations”, in other words, towards men grouped “in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their families, in their nations”.
This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity10 united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel.11 But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism.
The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel. The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek – a figure of Christ – and the upright “Noah, Daniel, and Job”. Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (56-58).
Today, Pope Francis responded to the letter of the new Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia, His Beatitude, Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, requesting ecclesiastical communion with him, and See of Rome. With this letter of the Holy Father communion between the two churches is confirmed.
In history, the patriarch was known as Bishop Krikor Ghabroyan (emeritus bishop of the Eparchy of France having retired in 2013). As with the bishop of Rome, the new Patriarch has assumed a new name. A new name and office bears a new title: Grégoire will carry the title of “Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians” and the patriarchal headquarters is located in the convent of Bzommar and his residence in Beirut.
Pope Francis’ letter indicates his joy at the Patriarch’s election with the hope that his new ministry will bear many fruits for the Kingdom. One line worth noting: “illuminated by the light of faith in the risen Christ, our vision of the world is full of hope and mercy, because we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life.”
His Beatitude Grégoire Pierre XX succeeds Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni who died on June 25, 2015.
The Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia has jurisdiction over 18 eparchies world-wide.
His Beatitude Grégoire Pierre was born on November 15, 1934 in Aleppo, Syria, ordained a priest March 28, 1959, and consecrated bishop 13 February 1977. At his next birthday the Catholicos will be 81.
As the Roman Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, the Pope meets with the Fathers of the Churches who are in communion with him to be updated on the life of particular churches. The Patriarchs and Major Archbishops from the Eastern Churches are in Rome this week for a plenary meeting of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
Who are these bishops? The current (2013) patriarchs and major archbishops are:
This year’s meeting centered around the theme of religious liberty, an issue that is at crisis proportions around the world, even in the Western nations.
From Vatican Radio, “Citing the words of his predecessor, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the post-Synodal exhortation, Ecclesia in medio oriente (nn. 39-40), Pope Francis said, “[You are] watchful guardians of communion and servants of Ecclesial unity,” adding, “that union, which you are called to realize in your Churches, finds natural and full expression in the ‘indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome’.” Pope Francis went on to say, “In order that our witness be credible, we are called ever to seek justice, mercy, faith, charity, patience and meekness.”
As you know, the current Pope and the previous one has had a deep appreciation for the patrimony of Eastern Christianity. They are brothers.
The Vatican Radio report can be heard here.
Rome Reports has filed a report here.
One head of Church leaves his ministry, another picks up a new call to serve God’s people on the same day. Abune Mathias, 71, was elected to lead Ethiopia’s 50 million Orthodox Christians, majority of the population. He is the sixth patriarch having received 500 of the 806 possible votes. His predecessor, Abune Paulos, was the head of the church since 1992 and died six months ago.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has had its own patriarch since 1959 when Pope Cyril VI allowed for the Ethiopian Church to move from the Coptic Orthodox Church and be self-ruling. The Ethiopian Church has apostolic origins.
The new patriarch was ordained to the Order of Deacon in 1948, and a priest-monk in 1955. Since 1971 a bishop. Abune Mathias has been serving as archbishop of the Church in Jerusalem and has lived outside of Ethiopia for more than 30 years.
Abune Mathias will be enthroned in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, 3 March.
Ethiopia has some of the word’s oldest churches, sometimes called “cave churches,” rock-hewn, which are a World Heritage Site, in Lalibella in northern Ethiopia. They’d remind of Raiders of the Lost Ark.