Prot. N° 393/2012R
Of Arab Countries
Affectionate loving greetings and esteem for a blessed Eid ul Fitr, with my blessing and good wishes for God’s holy name to be praised and for Him to grant you and all our beloved Arab countries security, peace, stability, progress and prosperity!
This faithful, cordial and sincere wish for a happy feast comes to you from an Arab Christian Patriarch who loves you, in these difficult, dangerous and possibly fatal circumstances through which our Arab countries and homelands are going, circumstances unprecedented in our history.
A festival brings family members together around the meaning, values and traditions of the celebration. That is why the dearest wish that we make at this blessed Eid ul Fitr is for the unity of our Arab homelands and countries, unity of all citizens in their various denominations, communities, aspirations, parties, inclinations and interests: unity creates strength and guarantees sovereignty and success.
- Unity of Christians in the variety of their denominations is very important if they are to live out their holy faith and be effective in their service to their country.
- Unity of Muslims in their various denominations and groups is very important for consolidating the values of true Islam, safeguarding their homelands, ensuring their citizens’ happiness and achieving a flourishing, progressive and bright future, especially for the upcoming young generations, because our Arab countries are indeed young and the aspirations of our young people are very fine.
- Muslim-Christian Arab unity is another wish at this feast and in these singular circumstances that our Arab countries are experiencing. We have to work very hard to strengthen our Arab Muslim-Christian unity, in order to continue our common path together that we have been following for the last 1433 years. So Christian-Muslim living together in our Arab countries will be a model of communication, mutual help, solidarity, compassion and respect between the faithful of different religions, both locally and worldwide.
Today in the world, fear about this or that religious group is growing and fear especially about the fate of Christians, in the wake of changes that are happening in the Arab world. We would like to affirm this Muslim-Christian unity and the need to consolidate it.
Indeed, this unity is based on joint history, during which Christians have worked with considerable involvement at the development of their Arab homelands in all aspects: language, literature, art and culture in schools, orphanages, hospitals, old people’s homes, clinics and welfare societies, which have always opened their doors to all citizens. Our Muslim brethren still like to come to these institutions and very much appreciate their services as well as the dedication of the monks and nuns who have devoted themselves to the service of God and their neighbour in the context of these institutions. That is the story of Christian devotion.
- The joint Muslim-Christian role is to fulfil the aspirations of the young Muslim and Christian generations: freedom of worship and conscience, freedom of thought and art, equality between all citizens, human dignity, parity of job opportunities, a worthy standard of living, respect for women and children, the disabled and elderly, etc. All those are common values and goals for which Muslims and Christians have to work together and achieve through shared sacrifices and efforts. That should be especially the duty of the wise, experienced persons who devote themselves to Muslim-Christian dialogue, of enlightened civil bodies and Christian and Muslim religious leaders.
That is their task in the context of schools, universities and municipal bodies, through programmes of religious and moral education. That will be the real Arab spring.
- Arab unity can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though this conflict has been the cause of the wars and crises that have weighed heavily on Arab shoulders and driven millions of our brothers and sisters to emigrate, especially Christians. This conflict has divided and continues to divide the ranks of the Arab and Muslim world.
- As our Arab world has a great, glorious history, we have to unite all our efforts and abilities to benefit from this historic stage that our Arab countries are going through, in order to ensure a better future for our upcoming young generations, far from fanaticism, violence, hatred, enmity, mutual recriminations, division and dependence on others.
I entrust this heartfelt letter, together with my prayer, to your hearts and consciences. Alongside mine, the prayers of our faithful men and women are raised for you, who are the trustees of our countries’ spiritual, national, cultural and humane values.
We pray every day for our governments, all those in public service and the armed forces: “permit them, Lord, to serve and govern in peace that through the faithful conduct of their duties we may live peaceful and serene lives in all piety and holiness.”
May Almighty God grant this feast to be beneficial for everyone and for our Arab homelands; may it bring hearts together for good, unite our goals, grant us peace and security and shower us with good things and heavenly and earthly gifts!
With my esteem, affection and prayer,
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem