Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - The Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the other Churches and ecclesial communities in Syria played an "important role" at a national level during the Syrian conflict, to the effect of consolidating national unity in general and during the war, especially through strengthening the national sense of belonging in the face of the attempts to sow the" extremist ideas" and the adherence to the Syrian national roots and the security, unity and stability of the country. This is the what Syrian President Bashar al Assad said to the new Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch, which he received in Damascus along with a delegation of Melkite Bishops on Tuesday, July 4.
Official Syrian agency SANA reports the meeting, saying that during the talks the spirit of the Syrian people was celebrated. The meeting dealt with the situation in Syria in light of the "terrorist war" against it and the exceptional resilience shown by the Syrian people with all their components in the face of this war, "whose outcomes will determine the fate of the peoples of the region as a whole".
71-year-old Youssef Absi was elected Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch on Wednesday, June 21st. Native of Damascus, he also owns US citizenship. He belongs to the Society of Saint Paul's Missionaries, born in the twentieth century in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with the intent of nurturing the spiritual life of the faithful, especially through preaching and popular missions. Prior to being elected Patriarch, he was titular Archbishop of Tarsus and Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus. Before the beginning of the Syrian conflict there were about 235 thousand Melkite Greek Catholics in Syria. (GV) Agenzia Fides, 5/7/2017)