On 25 November, Pope John Paul II asked Patriarch Ignace Moussa I, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, to serve as Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. After resigning from the patriarchal see, he succeeded Achille Cardinal Silvestrini, who had served as Prefect since 1991.
Patriarch Ignace Moussa I was born in Syria in 1930. Ordained to the priesthood in 1954, he earned a degree in canon law from the Lateran University in Rome. In 1977, the synod of the Syriac Catholic Church elected him Bishop of Cairo. After 17 years in Cairo, he was elected Archbishop of Homs- Hama of the Syrians, and on 13 October 1998, Patriarch of Antioch.
New Melkite Patriarch
Archbishop Lutfi Laham, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, was elected Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, on 29 November by the synod of bishops of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
The new Patriarch, Gregorios III, succeeds 92-year-old Patriarch Maximos V, who resigned in November for health reasons.
Born in Syria in 1933, the Patriarch was ordained a priest in 1959 and received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in 1961.
Stationed in Lebanon, he co-founded a trade school and orphanage. Transferred to Jerusalem in 1974, he launched aid programs to assist poor families and students in the Holy Land, started the Eastern Library, a center for research and began several health clinics. Elected as Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, he was ordained bishop in 1981.
Jewish-Catholic Dialogue Meets
A review of the Middle East peace process was high on the agenda of the Dialogue of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the National Council of Synagogues, held in Baltimore on 20 November. Msgr. Denis J. Madden, Associate Secretary General, participated in the discussions.
Other topics included the impact on Jewish-Catholic dialogue of two recent documents: “Dabru Emet: a Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity” and “Dominus Iesus,” which the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released late last year.
Muslims and Christians, Unite!
Focolare, a worldwide lay movement founded in Italy in 1943 by Chiara Lubich, invited Muslims and Christians to Washington, D.C., on 14 November to explore paths to interracial and interreligious harmony, beginning here in the United States.
William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and Vice President of CNEWA, joined Ms. Lubich and Imam W.D. Muhammad, leader of the Muslim American Society, a Chicago-based organization with more than two million members, most of them African-Americans, in addressing the gathering, which brought together more than 10,000 people.
CNEWA Assists Juvenile Prisoners
With CNEWA’s assistance, 86 juveniles serving sentences at the Roumieh prison in Lebanon have benefited from educational programs established last year.
Classes in computers, creative writing, drama, English language, fine arts and first aid meet for two hours once a week for six weeks. Each course is offered six times a year to allow a break for course evaluation.
Students are chosen on the basis of evaluations by Mouvement Social, Terre des Hommes or the Phoenix Foundation and are expected to adhere to classroom guidelines based on mutual respect, discipline, participation and productivity.
Although permitted to take only one class at a time, they may take consecutive courses after the successful completion of each six-week program.
Eastern Churches Seminar
On 1 and 2 November, Chorbishop John D. Faris, Assistant Secretary General, addressed the clergy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia at their annual conference held this year in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His topic was “The Pastoral Care of Eastern Catholics.”
On 6 November, Chorbishop Faris led a lively discussion on the Catholic communion of churches with the students and faculty of Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.
Late last year, two devoted servants of the church entered into eternal life.
Diodoros I, 77, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, died in Jerusalem on 19 December after a long illness. For nearly two decades, the Patriarch led the Orthodox community in the Holy Land, which numbers some 130,000 Orthodox Christians in Israel, Jordan and Palestine. The primary custodian of the Holy Sites, Patriarch Diodoros presided at the dedication of the restored dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
On 14 December, Myroslav Cardinal Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, died at the age of 86. As head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which the Soviets outlawed in 1946, Cardinal Lubachivsky re-established this body of 5.2 million believers in 1991, founding parishes, restoring churches and revitalizing Christian formation.