Syriac Patriarch Remembered as Luminary who Built Bridges

BEIRUT (CNS) — Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, the former patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, was remembered as great spiritual father and luminary who built bridges of understanding and honest dialogue, both at the ecumenical and interfaith levels.

The 81-year-old cardinal, who also served as prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, died April 7 in Rome.

Celebrating his funeral Mass April 16 at Beirut’s Cathedral of the Annunciation, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan recalled that when Cardinal Daoud was elected patriarch by the Syriac Catholic Synod in October 1998, he took as his motto “father, head and pastor.”

“We knew him as a man of simplicity and great humility,” Patriarch Younan said of Cardinal Daoud, “although he was a man of science, with good experience in both church law and civil law. A man who listens, understands, pardons and encourages. And because he trusted those who used to seek advice, he always exercised justice with mercy and combined wisdom with firmness and compassion.”

“As a man of God, he knew how to act before preaching and how to build bridges of understanding and honest dialogue, between various church communities as well between Christians and Muslims.”

Patriarch Younan said the cardinal strengthened ties between the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox churches.

He noted how, as a youngster from a little village in the Diocese of Homs in Syria, Cardinal Daoud followed the call to the priesthood and accomplished his studies and formation at seminaries in Jerusalem, then in Lebanon. Cardinal Daoud served as a priest in his home diocese, as a secretary to Patriarch Ignace Antoine II Hayek in Lebanon, as a bishop of Cairo, then he returned as archbishop of Homs.

Patriarch Younan said Cardinal Daoud was bedridden for a month-and-a-half after suffering a stroke.

“But, he was conscious, and on that Easter Vigil day, he was able to hear the comforting voice of his divine redeemer, resurrected: ‘Moses, son of Daoud (referring to the cardinal’s father), I was always confident that you love me more than these!’” Patriarch Younan said, a reference to the Gospel of St. John.

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