Jerusalem Patriarch calls for EU action on Gaza war

Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem urged the European Union and international community on Saturday to play a more active role in resolving the war in Gaza, emphasizing the critical need for peace, dialogue, and humanitarian aid for the affected Christian community and all residents of the region.

The Patriarch’s message, delivered amidst the observance of the Feast of the Forty Holy Martyrs, stressed the dire consequences of the conflict on Gaza’s populace and highlighted the unified stance of the Holy Land’s Christian Churches in calling for an end to hostilities.

“With the cooperation of the other Christian Churches of the Holy Land, which came together under our leadership,” the Patriarch said. “We have called for the cessation of all hostilities and have sought permission to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by the war.” This collaborative effort reflects the urgent need for support, addressing the plight of the “wounded, starving, and homeless” in Gaza, he said.

Patriarch Theophilos III also highlighted his engagement with the President of the State of Israel, advocating for the Monastery of Saint Porphyrios to offer asylum to the people of Gaza. “This action underscores our commitment to providing refuge and support amid this crisis,” Theophilos said.

The Patriarch also underscored the importance of dialogue in navigating the complex political landscape surrounding the conflict. “To the representatives of the European Union and other nations, we have recommended and conveyed a spirit of dialogue and reconciliation as a solution to the political problem,” he declared, promoting a pathway toward peace and cooperation.

GREEK ORTHODOX Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III leads the ‘Washing of the Feet’ ceremony outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City in April 2022. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Patriarch says he aims to help mediate tensions

In his speech, Theophilos spoke of the church’s leadership extending beyond the Christian community, fostering unity in efforts to mediate tensions and support peace initiatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His collaboration with the World Council of Churches and other religious and political leaders, he said, was aimed at bolstering the Christian presence in the Holy Land and advocating for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Theophilos III has served as the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem since 2005, overseeing not just the Holy City and all of Israel and the Palestinian territories but also extending his ecclesiastical jurisdiction to include Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion.

His election as the 141st primate was unanimously decided by the Holy Synod of Jerusalem, confirmed by the Eastern Orthodox synod of Constantinople, and endorsed by Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority, with Israel officially recognizing his election in December 2007, after initial objections.

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