Yesterday, Bishop Joseph Younan, 65, eparch of the New Jersey centered Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance (in the USA & Canada) was elected Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians today. His Beatitude, Ignace Joseph III Younan succeeds His Beatitude Mar Ignace Pierre Abdel-Ahad and a temporary administration of the patriarchate.
Pope Benedict accepted a request for full ecclesiastical communion with the new patriarch (according to the Eastern Code of Canon Law), here is the letter of concession. The granted the request of communion “willingly, thus performing a part of the Petrine ministry which gives me particular pleasure. Communion with the Bishop of Rome, Peter’s Successor, established by the Lord as the visible foundation of unity in faith and charity, guarantees the bond with Christ the Pastor and introduces the particular Churches into the mystery of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”.
Pope Benedict XVIs address (in French) to the new patriarch and the bishops of the synod.
In brief, the Pope said: “My hope is that in the East, where the Gospel was first announced, Christian communities may continue to live and bear witness to their faith, as they have over the centuries. At the same time I hope that all those outside their homeland may receive adequate pastoral care so as to maintain the bond with their religious roots”. The Pope then voiced his hope that the Eastern Churches, “wherever they may be, are able to integrate themselves into their new social and ecclesial surroundings without losing their own identity and conserving the imprint of their Eastern spirituality, so that, using the words East and West, the Church may speak effectively of Christ to modern mankind”.
The bishops of the Syrian Catholic Church have been meeting in synod in Rome since the 18th.
May Mary, Mother of God intercede for the new patriarch and the Syrian Catholic Church before the Throne of Grace.
The biography of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II.
May his memory be eternal.
To the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church:
I was profoundly saddened to receive news of the death of His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and of All the Russias, and with fraternal affection I wish to convey to the Holy Synod and to all the Members of the Russian Orthodox Church my most sincere condolences, assuring you of my spiritual closeness at this very sad time. In my prayer I beseech the Lord to welcome into his Kingdom of eternal peace and joy this tireless servant, and to grant consolation and comfort to all those who mourn his passing. Mindful of the common commitment to the path of mutual understanding and cooperation between Orthodox and Catholics, I am pleased to recall the efforts of the late Patriarch for the rebirth of the Church, after the severe ideological oppression which led to the martyrdom of so many witnesses to the Christian faith. I also recall his courageous battle for the defence of human and Gospel values, especially in the European Continent, and I trust that his commitment will bear fruit in peace and genuine progress, human, social and spiritual. At this sad time of loss, as his mortal remains are consigned to the earth in the sure hope of resurrection, may the memory of this servant of the Gospel of Christ be a support for those who are now in sorrow and an encouragement for those who will benefit from his spiritual legacy as leader of the venerable Russian Orthodox Church.
With fraternal affection in the Risen Lord,
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
We have learned with profound sadness of the death of His Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Patriarch Alexis was called to guide the Russian Orthodox Church in a period of great change, and his leadership has enabled that Church to face the challenges of transition from the Soviet era to the present with renewed interior vitality. He was instrumental in fostering the enormous growth of dioceses, parishes, monasteries and educational institutions which have given new life to a Church sorely tested for so long.
I recall my many meetings with His Holiness, who always made a point of expressing his goodwill towards the Holy Father and his desire to strengthen collaboration with the Catholic Church. His personal commitment to improving relations with the Catholic Church, in spite of the difficulties and tensions which from time to time have emerged, has never been in doubt.
We join the hierarchy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church in commending Patriarch Alexis to our heavenly Father’s eternal love, that he may be rewarded for his long and dedicated ministry to the Church he loved.
Walter Cardinal Kasper
Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity