bishops bless association
Sword of the Spirit community in Lebanon
a news report by
The Syriac-Orthodox members of the People of God
community and its associated movements in Lebanon now have their own association
of the faithful, just like their brothers and sisters from the respective
Catholic and Greek-Orthodox churches.
On Sunday the 3rd of February 2013, two bishops
of their church, Bishop Georges Saliba, bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli
and Bishop Daniel Kourie, bishop of Beirut, granted their apostolic blessing
to the members of their church who are part of the ecumenical community,
the People of God.
The written text of this blessing was signed by
the two bishops during a community meeting held in a school hall in Mtayleb
(Lebanon). The bishops explained that they were granting their blessing
to chuch members “known to them personally for their faithful service in
the Christian formation centers of their dioceses.” Such a commendation
by their bishops speaks of the ongoing efforts of those community members
to be in good communication with their bishops and to serve at the parish
and diocesan level .
The text reads: “Dear sons and daughters, we are
here because you have asked us to bless your apostolic association. In
light of our personal acquaintance with you and with the personal service
you render in the Christian formation centers of our dioceses, and [we
do so] after having studied the rules which govern your presence as Syriac-Orthodox
within this charismatic movement, we grant you our blessing. We also note
your serious efforts to live out a Christian life of virtue according the
principles of the faith of our holy Syriac-Orthodox Church, its tradition
and history, and its holy sacraments. We urge you therefore to guard the
deposit of faith and the bonds of charity and to be witnesses to and apostles
of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially in this our beloved and troubled Middle
East, through the intercession or Our Lady and all the saints.”
Bishop Georges Saliba (standing)
spoke words of blessing and
encouragement to members
of the community
The joyous occasion was marked by the brothers
and sisters from this oriental church chanting in the Syriac language a
few hymns and canticles from their church tradition.
The bishops were welcomed by Jean Fahd, senior
coordinator of the community, and by members of its pastoral council, including
Malko Dunia, himself Syriac-Orthodox. The bishops were also welcomed at
the event by the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Tyre, Archbishop Georges
Bacouni, who is a member of the community.
Two Syriac-Orthodox bishops
– Bishop Georges Saliba and Bishop Daniel
Kourie (fifth and
seventh from the left respectively)
– with Syriac-Orthodox members of the People
as well as dignitaries from
their own and other churches.
In a short message of welcome, Jean Fahd described
to the guest bishops the principles which govern the life of the People
of God, its missionary dimension, and its ecumenical calling –
principles which respect the
church traditions of all the community’s members.
Speaking to the assembly, Bishop Saliba underlined
that the Syriac-Orthodox Church was one of the first to get involved in
the ecumenical movement after the Second World War, through the World Council
of Churches, and in the 1970s through the Middle East Council of Churches.
Speaking of the Lord Jesus, Bishop Kourie said, “Do not be afraid to follow
him. His wisdom has overcome the world....Guard the deposit of faith and
the doctrine of the holy fathers of the Syriac Church, serve the church
of Christ which he has purchased by his precious blood…and know that the
gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”