“Having in mind the unity of faith, and acting according to the tradition and the customs of the Church, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, as head of his ecclesial delegation, paid an official and irenic visit to the Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East. His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, with the hierarchs of the holy assembly of the Antioch Patriarchate, solemnly received them.
His Holiness’s visit was made at Patriarch John’s invitation, addressed to him during his visit to Serbia last October.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej and his entourage had the opportunity to get informed on the real situation of the Antiochian Church in Syria and Lebanon. Both sides discussed a large number of important issues for the Churches of Antioch and Serbia.
The Patriarchs also firmly confirmed many positions: both Churches consider Christians to be a fundamental component of the Eastern Mosaic in the societies in which they live, and that peace in the Middle East can be based neither on the theory of minorities, nor on the logic of the supremacy of the majority, but that it must be achieved through the synergy of all combined efforts in the context of citizenship, and of a single life for all religious and social groups.
The two Churches also affirmed that the responsibility lies with all, inside and outside Syria, for the disappearance of both ideological and armed terrorism. They spoke in favor of the resolution of the crisis in a peaceful way, in order to preserve the people of the East from the sufferings of war, such as kidnappings, assassinations, expulsions, and violence.
The two Churches also call upon the international community and all governments to truly examine the problem of terrorism, which has long afflicted all the countries and people in the East, among whom are also Christians, including the children of the Antioch Church and others, who have been paying a high price.
Both Churches emphasize the importance of cooperation within Orthodoxy, and call for strengthening and activating the dialogue between all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, as it is the only way out of the crisis. Moreover, they confirm that one must respect the historical and geographical boundaries between the local Churches, and they consider that the unity of the Orthodox world is a precious heritage entrusted to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and that it will remain preserved, regardless of what future crises may bring.
The two Churches also emphasize their faith in the goodness of people in our countries, as well as in the religious and civilization legacy that constitutes their identity and belonging. It cannot be fragmented in the whirlwinds of the contemporary world, penetrated by the spirit of independence and individualism, nor in the tendencies towards schism and the use of religion in the political sphere. In addition, the two Churches also confirm that belonging to the Church neither abolishes nor simultaneously identifies with national belonging, based on the specificity of countries, but that belonging to the Church establishes precisely a foundation for belonging to the nation and the State, by building in people the culture of citizenship and cohabitation with others, while fully respecting their characteristics.
The two Churches also draw attention to the abduction of the two metropolitans of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, which has been going on since April 2013. The two Churches condemn both the criminal kidnapping and the silence that has been surrounding this event, and they call all to make efforts, so that the two metropolitans may be freed, and thus to put an end to this tragedy that symbolizes on a small scale the suffering of all those who have been taken away, as well as the sufferings of the people of the East who pay the price of wars.
Both Churches also call on the international community to safeguard the holy places of Kosovo and Metohija. They pray for the prosperity of the people who belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church, for peace and stability in all countries, for peace in Syria and stability in Lebanon, and for all people who long for the peace of the Most Holy God.
Damascus, June 7, 2019
Patriarchate of Serbia, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej; Patriarchate of Antioch, His Beatitude Patriarch John X.”
Source (with picture) in Serbian