Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem visits WCC
Head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Patriarch Theophilos III, head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, was received by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia today at the WCC headquarters in Geneva in their first official encounter since he was elected in 2005.

Patriarch Theophilos – the first patriarch of Jerusalem to visit the WCC – expressed his warm appreciation for the efforts of the WCC in nurturing peace in the Middle East and for expressions of solidarity with the Christian minority in the Holy Land. He reaffirmed the commitment of his church to active participation in the life and work of the WCC, and emphasized that the ecumenical vision was central to the nature of the church. He particularly welcomed the renewed focus on spirituality in the WCC, and reiterated an invitation to the general secretary to visit Jerusalem.

The mainly Arabic-speaking Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the largest Christian community in the Holy Land and has congegrations spread over the Palestinian territories, Israel and Jordan. Traditionally the guardian of the most revered Christian sites, the church is one of the founder members of the WCC. Theophilos served as a member of the WCC central committee from 1998-1991. During his visit to the WCC, Patriarch Theophilos was accompanied by Metropolitan Basilios of Caesarea, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantine (chief secretary of the Holy Synod), and Archbishop Theophanis of Gerason.

WCC asks the Jordanian government to reconsider decision on Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
Head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has received with “deep concern” the recent withdrawal of Jordan’s recognition of Patriarch Theophilos III as the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and requested the decision to be reconsidered.

In a 18 May letter to the Jordanian Prime Minister Dr Marouf Suleiman al-Bakhit, the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia expressed “fear that such a decision might lead to a division among the Orthodox Christian community in Jordan and Palestine with negative ecclesial and socio-political consequences”. Kobia also stressed that recognizing Theophilos III “is of utmost importance for the good governance of the institutions related to that patriarchate”.

The election of the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem is customarily recognized by the Jordanian and Israeli governments as well as by the Palestinian Authority.

The Greek Orthodox Church and the Future of Jerusalem
Interview with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III

By Palestine-Israel Journal

Politically speaking, Jerusalem is often discussed in terms of only two sides — Israeli and Palestinian. This fact does not imply denying or ignoring the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which insisted in its peace agreement with Israel on being a major partner when the status of Jerusalem is decided between Israel and the Palestinians. The religious significance of Jerusalem is kept a separate matter — it is simply a city of the utmost importance for the three Abrahamic faiths. The Greek Orthodox Christians, or “Rum Orthodox” as they are historically called, have had a history in Jerusalem for more than 2,000 years. As the inheritor of tradition, property and leadership, the Greek Orthodox Church aspires to play a significant role in the political future of this city. The jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which includes more than 150,000 Christians, stretches across Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), including Jerusalem, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. By default, the patriarch takes on a role as a political leader whose voice is considered integral in many local and international matters. As a local institution, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Israeli government rely on cooperation in order to carry out many of their respective functions. At the same time, any newly elected Greek Orthodox patriarch has to seek the approval of his nomination by the three parties: Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Members of the synods should have Jordanian citizenship. The primary function of the patriarchate is to preserve and protect the holiest sites in Christendom, as it has done since the birth of Christianity.

The 141st Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, discusses the Greek Orthodox Church’s current and future role in Jerusalem and the peace process, responds to criticisms and shares personal opinions.

Palestine-Israel Journal: What is the significance of the Greek Orthodox Church for Jerusalem?

Patriarch Theophilos III: The role of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the church is extremely important for the current and future status of Jerusalem. Its history cannot be dissociated from the political and cultural-religious history of Jerusalem. It has an unbreakable historical presence for 2,000 years and is the only religious institution that has been here throughout the ages. Its purpose and mission continues to be crystal clear and purely religious and spiritual; it does not promote any other interests. Today, if Jerusalem enjoys a certain status and cultural and religious character, it is due to the presence of the patriarchate, which is the inheritor of the spiritual heritage, but also the natural heritage. By natural heritage I mean churches, basilicas, places of worship, holy places that have been handed over to the patriarchate by the Byzantines who left Palestine in the 7th century with the coming of Omar ibn al-Khattab. It was at this time that the Patriarch of Jerusalem became both the spiritual and ethnic leader of the Greek Orthodox community.

Palestine-Israel Journal:Speaking of heritage, there have been accusations by some local Arab Orthodox residents that the Greeks have maintained cultural dominance and that Arabs have not been promoted to certain official positions in the church to the same degree as the Greeks have. Is this true?

There is a bigger question here. The name of the patriarchate and all Eastern Orthodox Christians locally here is “Rum.” This is how they are recognized and identified by the Muslim Arabs and Palestinians, in general. It is a matter of cultural identity or identity crisis that many people have difficulties understanding the meaning of “Rum.” The West has also brought them confusion about their identity, which could be remedied with education and [an] understanding [of] history. And you have to refer back to your roots. You cannot disregard the Byzantine presence that was here. The stones are talking — everything is talking. I have prepared an academic study which gives a very thorough and complete analysis of the meaning of “Rum” and what it means to be a member of that church.

Palestine-Israel Journal:Although the Greek Orthodox Church has had a presence in Jerusalem since its existence, looking forward, there is a political agenda on the part of Israel. No one can deny they would like to gain property that the patriarchate owns, especially in the Jaffa Gate area. Has this put pressure on the church?

You have touched upon a very delicate issue, the core of the importance and significance of the patriarchate’s presence and role concerning Jerusalem and the greater area. From the religious point of view, many of the holy places under the charge of the patriarchate have remained accessible to all pilgrims and visitors without any discrimination whatsoever. It is due to the presence of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. What has been acknowledged by everybody locally, regionally and internationally is that if it were not for the presence of the patriarchate here, most of the holy places would have been destroyed, or at the end of the day, turned into museums or archaeological sites and tourist attractions. But so far, the holy places have been maintained as places of blessedness and worship.

In terms of culture and even politics, the patriarchate is very important, first of all because it gives legitimacy to the historical claims that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the PA have over the holy places — because they both have claims from the Muslim Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab, when the Muslims took over the city of Jerusalem from the then-Patriarch of Jerusalem Sophronius, and it is well known that they made a peace covenant known as “the Covenant of Omar.” This fundamental agreement has been the basis of all the legal transactions or legal agreements that have taken place so far between the patriarchate and the states and their respective authorities. The other thing is that the patriarchate has been the inheritor of the natural heritage, that is to say, churches, monasteries and other properties, which later were augmented. This is what makes the patriarchate important for the natural, the physical and the demographic [aspects] of Jerusalem. The patriarchate continues to hold properties within and around the Old City — within politically strategic places.

Palestine-Israel Journal:Is any of this, the strength of the patriarchate, a source of tension with the Israeli government today?

Jerusalem is [at] the heart of the political developments here, so it is natural that the patriarchate is part and parcel of the political conflict and interests. But the mission of the patriarchate remains spiritual and religious. Unlike the other Christian churches here — and they do have a lot of properties as well — the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is the only church institution that is independent, autonomous and autocephalous. This means the properties of the patriarchate are properties of the country here, the land here — they belong here.

As for the properties belonging to the other churches, for example, those belonging to the Roman Catholic Church or to the Russian Church, these are state properties. They do not belong here to the locality, but to the respective states. Some time ago, if you visited Notre Dame you could see written [there] “Vatican Property.” The same happened recently, the Russians asked for some properties to be restored and returned to their proper owners. But who is dealing with the state about these properties, or with the Palestinian Authority? It is the state, not the church.

The other thing is that all the other churches have their point of reference far away from Jerusalem. The appointments of the leaders of the other Christian churches and institutions are coming from abroad, from outside — not from within. So you understand the importance of the patriarchate; it is a local institution.

Palestine-Israel Journal:How is the relationship now between Jordan, Palestine and Israel, the states within the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem?

The relationship today is excellent. After the crisis that the patriarchate passed through, and [when] I assumed my responsibilities as the head of the church here, of course there were all sorts of problems, difficulties and misunderstandings. But eventually everybody realized that my task is to give what is due unto God and what is due unto Caesar.

Palestine-Israel Journal: How much of a role does the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate play in speaking about Palestinian rights, especially with its close proximity to areas like Silwan? Does the church feel a responsibility to take a political stance on the issue?

We try not to interfere or turn ourselves into politicians, but at the same time this does not mean that we do not have compassion for the suffering and the affliction through which the people are passing here. And this is why the churches here have established a kind of council to discuss issues of common concern. We are addressing issues like the recent shooting in Silwan and others. Our purpose is to try, from our position, to contribute to mutual respect and understanding and to peaceful coexistence and symbiosis. This is the duty of the church. This is why we as churches have officially and repeatedly made statements and expressed our position over the status of Jerusalem.

Our position on Jerusalem is that we want it to be an open city, to be accessible to everybody, and that Jerusalem has enough space to accommodate all religious communities. We say it is enough for us to be allowed to visit and venerate the places that are commonly holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Even if we do not have claims over the site itself, we have claims to the holiness and sanctity of the place. The Temple Mount is an example. Another example is King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion. When we have our holy day of Pentecost, which we celebrate in our monastery and at the school on Mount Zion, after the service we go in our liturgical vestments in a procession to King David’s Tomb, which is a synagogue. There we go for worship, to say our prayers and leave. This is what we want. This is our understanding of the holy places. This is why I have said Jerusalem has enough space to accommodate everybody.

Politically speaking, everybody has claims over Jerusalem and everybody wants Jerusalem to be his or her own capital. But from the religious point of view, Jerusalem is the capital of God. And my personal position is that Jerusalem breathes with three lungs: a Christian lung, a Jewish lung and an Islamic lung. And those lungs, they breathe harmoniously. This is how we see the future of Jerusalem.

Palestine-Israel Journal:What is your opinion about the ongoing negotiations of a taxation agreement between the Israeli government and the Vatican, which could mean that church institutions would have to pay income, property and municipal taxes? Does this Orthodox Church feel sidelined knowing that if an agreement is reached, it will set a precedent for the other churches?

The situation with the Vatican negotiations is far more complex. The Greek Orthodox Church is not sidelined because the legal status of the patriarchate differs from the Vatican’s. It is the only church institution with Jordanian law. The patriarchate is a local institution. The Vatican is a spiritual and political entity, so its representatives cannot speak on behalf of the local Christians here.

Palestine-Israel Journal:There are many videos online of infighting that takes place between the Greeks and Armenians in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They seem shameful, and it is hard to understand how such clashes occur in holy places. How would you explain the dynamic here to an observer?

I understand your question, but people try to limit those religious conflicts and fights to certain events that have taken place between Franciscans, between Greeks and Armenians, Armenians and Syrians, Copts and Ethiopians, and so on. But, in fact, we must think a bit deeper and ask ourselves what the entire conflict is about between Palestinian Muslims and Jewish Israelis. Is it not about religion? It is about religion. What is the importance of Jerusalem, politically speaking? Is Jerusalem important for military or strategic purposes? It is purely religious, nothing else. The conflict here is religious. When you see clashes in Jerusalem, especially over the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif, what is it all about? Is it not about religious areas? So they focus on a particular point in the Holy Sepulchre; that makes sense; it is natural. But they cannot focus on the broader picture of what is going on here in the Holy Land.

Now, there is another thing that we should not forget; we have to take into consideration our human predicament. Actually, all the fights and clashes in the past were in the name of God. The Crusades, what were they all about? Were they not in the name of God? And there are so many others. Today, it is not called “in the name of God,” but in this game, in one way or another, religion is involved.

Palestine-Israel Journal:In the World Council of Churches, how does the Greek Orthodox Church view its need to be there or to be a participant?

The Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem were among the pioneers, the founders of the World Council of Churches. It was established at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and then all the other churches followed. The council plays an important role in bringing together all the Christian denominations and has done great work because all sorts of prejudices have been dissipated.

The problem is this: During its inception years, the council focused on the unity of the Christian churches and denominations, but then the focus was diverted from a theological discussion to social matters because of the influence of the Protestant churches. Later on, in many cases, it got involved in political matters. Today, the council still plays an important role, but not as prominent as in the past because of many political changes and developments.

Still, the Orthodox Church is committed to the mission of the World Council of Churches. This is why we participate. I myself was the first representative of the patriarchate to become a member of the central committee of the council. Now we have our current representative, and we have recently welcomed the new secretary-general of the World Council of Churches. We are trying to contribute as much as possible because today this is important, especially for our religion. It can help in the peace process and reconciliation, and to bring peace and justice as well.

Palestine-Israel Journal:After the contact you had with the Greek prime minister recently when he visited Israel, what does the patriarchate expect from the Greek government? Do you believe Mr. George Papandreou will help to better relations in the area? Will you and he act as middlemen in political matters here?

The visit of Mr. Papandreou was really very important because he made it clear that his mission is to strengthen this initiative of the peace process. It is a well-known fact that he enjoys respect from both the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership. It is known that his father was a great supporter of the Palestinians during the time of President Yasser Arafat. And to come here to the patriarchate, it is another sign that everybody realizes the importance of the patriarchate, not only in the religious but also in the political sphere. Since the conflict, as I said, is religious, all those leaders are slowly realizing that without the assistance or advice of the religious leadership, not only Christian but also Muslim and Jewish, they cannot succeed in their efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to the area.

Palestine-Israel Journal:Your position is one of great importance and very demanding, yet you seem to have a low profile and live simply. From where do you draw strength on a daily basis?

It is a very hard question. I think all the strength is from above; it is from the church, from prayer. That is it.

Palestine-Israel Journal:What kind of advice would you give to people in the world today who may be struggling with the current economic state of affairs and other challenges that modernity and globalization present?

To people I would say that the exit and refuge from this world’s complexities is faith in God.

Questions: Anna Koulouris | Palestine-Israel Journal – Vol. 17 No.12 | 2011 –31.07.2011

Jerusalem Patriarch Lays the Cornerstone of Rawabi’s First Church
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III

Rawabi —His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem all Palestine and Jordan, today blessed the cornerstone of Rawabi’s first Rum Orthodox Church in the presence of Consul General Sotirios Athanssiou of Greece; Hanna Amireh, Head of the Higher Committee for Church Affairs and PLO Executive Committee member; Ziad Bandak,Presidents’ Advisor for Christian Relations Affairs; Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Governor of Jerusalem, and a delegation from the Holy Synod of the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

HB Theophilos III presided at the ceremony to lay the cornerstone of the first Christian church to be constructed in the new city of Rawabi. Completion of the church will coincide with the occupancy of the city’s first residents later this year. The master plan for Rawabi’s construction phases ensures that new homeowners will find essential components of daily life, such as Muslim and Christian houses of worship, ready upon arrival.

During the laying of the cornerstone ceremony, the Patriarch of Jerusalem remarked on his satisfaction with the central placement of the church in the new city’s residential areas in accordance with the master plan. He personally thanked Massar International Chairman Bashar Masri for the generous donation of the property upon which the church will be built, as well as the building’s architectural and engineering excellence. His Beatitude also credited the developer with a vision that is both inclusive and welcoming to Palestinians of all faiths and expressed his pleasure at the knowledge that Rawabi’s Christian and Muslim places of worship will be an integral part of the fabric of daily life.

After the ceremony, the delegation toured the city’s construction areas, including the first 3 neighborhoods and the city center. The delegation’s members were briefed on the city’s impact on Palestine’s economic, social and cultural sectors.

Hanna Amireh emphasized the encouragement and support the developer received from the Palestinian Leadership. “Rawabi is considered a very important milestone on the path to Palestinian statehood. The contribution that has been made to our economy in terms of both housing and job opportunities cannot be understated. Just as important, every Palestinian needs to realize how much Rawabi has also contributed to our national effort to remain steadfast on the land. Through Rawabi, we resist the expansion of Israeli settlements by creating a new reality as we build – significantly, impressively and permanently – on our own land.”

Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Governor of Jerusalem, stated, “This project is enormous, not just in physical size, but in the size of its benefit to the Palestinian people. I am completely impressed at the level of detail which was taken into account at the master planning phase, which reflects both the highest and finest in international standards for design. I consider this project a source of pride for the Palestinian people and for the Arab world as a whole.”

Massar Chairman Masri thanked the Patriarch for his blessing of the church’s cornerstone. He outlined the current phase of development as well as future plans for facilities and infrastructure, including the city’s main mosque in the city center. Masri went on to express hope that Rawabi would someday serve as a model for the development of new metropolitan areas in Palestine that, like Rawabi, aim to strengthen the social fabric of life through carefully thought out urban planning and superior engineering and architectural design. He concluded by affirming that he also hoped that Rawabi will contribute to the eventual realization of the Palestinian dream of statehood.

Christmas Message 2013
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III

Message of his Holiest Beatitude, Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Christmas 2013

Behold the Virgin, begetting God in flesh, in the city of Bethlehem, inside the Cavern,
the entire universe has been enriched, rejoice and dance, associate with servants
– for the Lord has come near everyone.
(Matins Oikos 20, December)

The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Orthodox Church of Christ, across the world, celebrates today a miraculous and sublime event which transcends every human intellect and concept.
It celebrates the event of the birth in flesh of the Son and Word of God, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, incarnate and made man from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.

This event, God the Father had wanted since centuries ago and for it He had prepared men through His holy prophets and “the Law as guardian” (Gal. 3, 24) in His Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

“But when the fullness of time had come” (Gal.4, 4) during the reign of Caesar Octavius Augustus, he revealed so in this very city, Bethlehem, “which is by no means least among the rulers of Judah”(Matt. 2, 6), and in this plain cavern.

Here, in this land, God the Father had deigned that His hitherto fleshless and timeless Son be born in flesh and appear in time. Here came the Magi from the East, led by a bright star, and saw an infant in the arms of the Virgin and worshipped Him, offering Him their presents of ‘gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2, 11). The Shepherds worshipped Him too, those living in the fields near the town of the Shepherds. Here too the angelic hymn of peace was heard from the heavens: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2, 14).

And this happened because God, who had made man, never ceased to love and seek him, even when man was distant from Him. God sought man in his complex, endless and pointless philosophical quests, and in his sinful and pernicious achievements, but He did not decline him; instead, according to the god-bearing saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, “He appropriated humanity and, without confusion, incorporated flesh and received man” (On the Right Faith, PG 76, 1181D) during the mission in the world and the incarnation of His Son.

Willingly executing the will of His Father, Christ, “though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (II Cor. 8,9). Being a citizen on the earth and associating with men as Theanthropos, God-Man, perfect God and perfect man, he benefited them in many different ways. He offered charity to the needy and the poor. He incorporated our human nature and elevated it to the heavens through the Cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension.

The Church, His holy body, through the effusion of the Holy Spirit, carries on His sanctifying and philanthropic work on earth. Through the centuries, the Church has been endlessly consecrating its members, cultivating, humanizing and adorning the customs of men, supporting the sacred institution of family, feeding the poor; today it sustains in deed the victims of the financial crisis and invites humanity to resolution and reconciliation, peace and justice, philanthropy, love and benefaction.

Even more so, the Church of Jerusalem, the first to evangelize the birth of Christ, prays from this Cavern and this Constantinian Basilica, of which it has proved a faithful guardian through the centuries, for peace and goodness in the entire world, for the end of acts of violence in the Middle East and elsewhere, for the cessation of terrorist activities, for respect of religious freedom and worship, for the liberation of the abducted hierarchs and nuns of the sister Church of Antioch and for the reconciliation and unification of all.

In the Holy City of Bethlehem, CHRISTMAS 2013.

Fervently praying to the Lord,


Patriarch of Jerusalem

His Beatitude Address of Welcome to His Excellency Traian Basescu the President of Romania
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III

Mr. President,
Respected Members of your Delegation,
Your Eminences,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for us to welcome you to the Holy Land and to our Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which is the Mother of all the Churches. Most especially we are pleased that you are here during this festive season in which the Church celebrates the Feasts of the Nativity and the Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, the time of the revelation of the True Light that enlightens all peoples (cf. Lk 2:32). We welcome you as a pilgrim and as a faithful son of our Holy Orthodox Church, which has such deep roots in the history of your nation and people.

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the embodiment of our sacred history, and, as you know well, Your Excellency, the Patriarchate, together with the Brotherhood of the Holy Tomb, have been entrusted by Divine Providence from the earliest days of the Church with the spiritual mission to be guardians and servants of the Holy Places. In this way we understand that we do not represent ourselves alone, but the whole Orthodox world, and we rejoice that so many pilgrims come from your country for the deep refreshment of the soul that so many find here. Indeed as Orthodox Christians from Romania they are able to participate fully in the worship and religious festivals of the Holy Places.

Moreover, Jerusalem holds a unique place in the human imagination, and the Patriarchate ensures that all those who wish to have access to the Holy Places are able to do so, including many Jewish and Muslim pilgrims, in addition to Christians of many confessions.

This is the responsibility that is laid upon us because of our unique position in the Holy Land. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem enjoys the full respect and recognition of the three political authorities of this region – the State of Israel, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the State of Palestine – and this legal status is clear and safe-guarded. The Patriarchate serves as the representative leader of all the Christian communities of the Holy Land, and is the principal Christian institution that can speak on behalf of the unique integrity of the status of Jerusalem. In this important work we know that we can count on the support of the faithful of Romania.

On the occasion of your visit, Your Excellency, we recall with gratitude the close relationship that has long existed between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the people of Romania. It was in 1682 that our esteemed predecessor, Patriarch Dositheos, established the first printing press in any Orthodox country, publishing in the great cultural city of Laşi important theological and liturgical books. We are united by important bonds of faith and affection which we must always be careful to foster and deepen.

We wish you, Mr. President, every success in your mission to our region, and we ask you to convey to your beloved nation and people our Patriarchal greetings and blessing. And in recognition of the close historic and spiritual relationship between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Romania, we wish to bestow upon you the decoration of the Great Cross of the Holy Tomb.

We thank you for your visit.

His Beatitude
Patriarch of Jerusalem

From the Secretariat-General

The President of Romania Visits the Jerusalem Patriarchate

On the 7th/20th of January 2014, the day after the feast of Theophany, the President of Romania, His Excellency Mr Traian Basescu, on a visit to the state of Israel, visited the Patriarchate accompanied by members of the Romanian Government and by the Romanian Ambassador to Israel, Mrs Andreea Păstârnac.

The Romanian President and his retinue were received by His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Hagiotaphite Fathers. In His welcoming address to the President, His Beatitude spoke in English.

see link:

and decorated him with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher for the enhancement of his pious disposition toward the Holy Sepulcher, also offering him a fine icon of Theotokos Jerusalemite.

Touched, the President offered His Beatitude a beautiful icon of the Nativity of Christ, crafted in an Orthodox Monastery of Romania, thanking Him for the honour bestowed upon him as a representative of the Romanian people, consisting of Orthodox faithful by 90%, and having close ties to the Orthodox Church.

“In the aftermath of the communist regime”, Mr Basescu said, “the state of Romania is trying to reestablish its relations with the Church of Romania, which is considered its integral part”.

Extending his thanks to His Beatitude over the manner in which He represents Christians in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem, the President kindly asked that the Church of Jerusalem look favourably on the as yet unresolved problem between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Patriarchate of Romania.

In His response, His Beatitude said that “we have already reached a preparatory agreement, which we expect to be signed by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania”. He went on to add that “We have decided in favour of establishing closer ties between the two Churches and have therefore sent a Hagiotaphite student, now Archimandrite Dositheos, to study in Romania with a scholarship”.

His Excellency the President, accompanied by His Beatitude and members of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, amid ringing bells, proceeded to venerate at the Church of the Resurrection, the Holy Sepulcher, the Katholikon and Sacristy of the Church of the Resurrection, where he was received by the Hegoumen, the Elder Sacristan of the Holy Sepulcher, His Eminence Isidoros, Archbishop of Hierapolis, in the presence of Templar Fathers. There, he was also offered an icon of the Aedicula of the Holy Sepulcher.

His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem’s Address to the Armenian Brotherhood of St. James
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III

His Beatitude Theophilos III
Patriarch of Jerusalem
9 January 2017

Your Beatitude,
Your Eminences,
Your Graces,
Beloved Members of our Respective Brotherhoods,
Dear Fathers,

We welcome you to our Patriarchate on this joyous Feast, and we greet you with words of celebration from the Service of Matins for the Feast of the Nativity:

Our Saviour, the day spring from the East, has visited us from on high, and we, who were in the darkness and shadow, have found the truth, for the Lord is born of the Virgin!

This is our joy, that the darkness has been dispelled by the one true Light, the Incarnate Logos.
As we celebrate the joy of the manifestation of this Light on earth, we wish to take this opportunity, Your Beatitude, to express our gratitude to you for the effort and attention that have found expression in the common work of the restoration of the Sacred Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre, and the ongoing work on the Church of the Nativity.

We cannot over-emphasize the significance of this, and the fruit of peace and understanding that this represents. We must give our best efforts together to building up and strengthening this relationship, and we know from our experience that dialogue has proved to be the only way to resolve family disagreements and misunderstandings and to bring about a new unity of purpose.

We fully appreciate the spirit of understanding, mutual respect, and common witness that has been shown by Your Beatitude, and we assure you of our full support as we continue together in this common work and common martyria for the well-being of our respective communities, for the people of the Holy Land, and for our wider world.

In our respective traditions, there is a close theological relationship between Feast of the Nativity and Feast of the Theophany, and the Incarnation of the Divine Logos reveals to us the life of the Trinity in the waters of the River Jordan. May the joy of our celebrations of the Nativity and the Theophany, in which the divine life is revealed among us in human flesh, give us renewed spiritual strength and purpose for the work before us.

Thank you for the expression of your greetings in this glorious Feast.

May Christ our God, who is born in the cave of Bethlehem, renew his joy in us and in the hearts of our communities and all the peoples of the Holy Land, that we may work for the fruits of truth, justice, and reconciliation, and may God bless you and the members of your community this Christmastide.
We pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that the New Year will be a fresh season of reconciliation and co-existence of the Abrahamic traditions in the Holy Land, for this is the work that brings forth the fruit of peace.

Thank you

Source: OCP Media Network

Address of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem at the Anglican Church in Acre
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III

On Tuesday evening, 8th/21st February 2017, the ceremony on the refurbishment of the Anglican Church of the Saviour took place in Acre.

This Church has its origin in the 19th century, since the establishment of the Anglican Church in the Holy Land, and it serves the needs of the English Community in Acre and the surrounding area.

His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos was invited to this ceremony by the Anglican Commissioner in Jerusalem Reverend Souheil Dawani. With His Beatitude also were, the Patriarchal Commissioner Most Reverend Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, Geronda Secretary-General Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, the Patriarchal Commissioner in Acre Archimandrite Philotheos and Orthodox and Arab-speaking Priests from the area of Acre. His Beatitude’s address is as follows:

Your Eminence Archbishop Suheil,

Dear Father Hosam,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear Friends,

As we gather for this blessed occasion, we recall the words of Saint Paul:

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

And in the Psalms we read:

“Bring to the Lord Glory and honour. Bring to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in His Holy Court” (Psalm 28, 29:1-2).
Worship is at the heart of the Abrahamic traditions. We say that those who wish to understand the faith and life of the Christian Church must begin by experiencing worship. For worship of the Divine, which is the source of one’s existence, is an inherent act of the human soul.“Indeed, in Christian tradition, the proper relationship between the created and the creator is best expressed through the relationship of worship. In every assembly of worship, Christians express their understanding of the nature of the Incarnate Logos, i.e. our Lord Jesus Christ, and of humanity’s relationship with Him.”

It is in this way that we experience the unity of heaven and earth. It is in the Divine Eucharist that we also experience the unity between divinity and humanity. In fact, the Divine Eucharist, which is reasonable worship, i.e. Logiki Latreia, in Greek, is a foretaste of deification, i.e. eternal life.

We are honoured to be present today, Archbishop Suheil, as you re-dedicate this church in Acre. Acre is an ancient city in which the witness of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worship been manifest for millennia. Indeed, it has become a mosaic of ethnic and religious communities, all which synthesize this harbor. Acre embraces its Jewish, Christian and Muslim civilizations as part of our present, living tradition.

Our active, functioning churches here are an essential part of this vibrant, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious landscape, where both an ancient indigenous Christian community and pilgrims from all over the world give testimony to the essential Christian character of the Holy Land.

The restoration of this Church of Saint Saviour, after more than a quarter of a century during which it has been closed, is an important witness to this long tradition of the Christian presence in the Holy Land and to the fundamental role of places of worship and prayer. By restoring this church to the use of the Anglican diocese, you are emphasizing the life of the diverse Christian martyria, and you are making a unique contribution to the long and unbreakable character and destiny of this city.

If Jerusalem is the spiritual capital of the world, then Acre is surely the spiritual gateway to the Holy Land. For centuries pilgrims would alight here on their way to Jerusalem, and from Acre they would return to their homelands, having been refreshed by the spiritual blessings of the Holy Places. The Rum Orthodox Church of Saint George and the underground Church of Saint Nicholas are also living testimony that we are not newcomers, but we Christians are an organic part of the fabric of this Holy Land.

We would like to take this opportunity, Your Grace, to commend you for your pastoral zeal, and for the great effort that you have made in restoring this church. Your deep commitment to the Christian presence in the Holy Land, your attentive care for your flock and for the many Anglican pilgrims who come to our region every year, as well as your clear support for Anglican institutions, including schools and hospitals that serve not only the members of the Anglican Church, but all peoples of our region without distinction, are an inspiration.

As a sign of the long-standing and important relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion, and between the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Anglican diocese, we wish to present to Saint Saviour’s Church this icon of the Resurrection for the veneration of the faithful. May it be a sign of hope that shines forth from the Holy Tomb of our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. After all, the Church of Jerusalem is first and foremost the community of the Resurrection.

May God bless you, Your Grace, Archbishop Suheil. And may God bless this city of Acre and our beloved Holy Land, for we consider this initiative to be a major contribution on behalf of both the Christian community and the local authorities to promoting peace, reconciliation, and mutual respect, which are the fruits of harmony.

Thank you.

Source: The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Jerusalem Patriarch, church leaders thank King for support during recent crisis
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III

His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Your Majesty,

We greet You from the Holy City of Jerusalem, and We send Our devoted best wishes to You and the Hashemite Royal Family.

On Our behalf, on behalf of the “Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem” and on behalf of the “Council of Churches in Jordan”, as well as Our clergy, our faithful, and the many thousands of pilgrims who visit this region every year, We wish to express to You our gratitude for the help and support that You have given to us in the recent crisis that faced the Christian community of our region.

Your defense of religious freedom and Your leadership, in ensuring that the Status Quo is respected and maintained, has been crucial in our ongoing attempts to guard and protect the Christian presence especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem. For Your defense is the embodiment of Your Majesty’s custodianship over Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in Our beloved Holy Land.

Your steadfastness, both personally and through Your Majesty’s government, is highly appreciated and we pledge our continued commitment to peace, reconciliation, and co-existence in our beloved Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.

We send to You, Your Majesty, our most respectful and loyal greetings; May God bless Your Majesty, the Hashemite Royal Family and all the people of our beloved Kingdom.

With Best Wishes and Patriarchal Blessings,

Patriarch of Jerusalem

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III has thanked His Majesty King Abdullah, on behalf of himself, the patriarchs and heads of the churches in Jerusalem, and the Council of Churches in Jordan, for the help and support His Majesty provided to the Christian community in the region during the recent crisis.

In a letter sent to King Abdullah following the reopening of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre after Israel suspended a bill to tax church property, Patriarch Theophilos III said His Majesty’s defence of religious freedom and his leadership in ensuring that the status quo is preserved have been crucial in the ongoing attempts to guard and protect Christian presence, especially in the holy city of Jerusalem.