Conception of the Union in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (1622-1672) by Mgr. Abdallah Raheb
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Conception of the Union in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
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Ελληνική Καθολική Εκκλησία Μελκίτη
by Abdallah Raheb, Beirut 1981
translated by Nicholas J. Samra

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[Webmaster's note: This doctoral thesis is reproduced by kind permission of Mgr. Raheb. The material is copyright and may not be reproduced without permission from the author and translator.]

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To their Beatitudes the five Patriarchs, Orthodox and Catholic, who bear the title of the city of God, Antioch.

In commemoration of the second Ecumenical Council held in 381 in Constantinople, the General Council that inspired a new ecumenical spirit in the universal Church of Christ invigorated by the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father.

Image Image
Archmandrite Mgr. Abdallah Raheb Archimandrite Abdallah Raheb,
Doctor of Theology,
Licentiate in Philosophy,
Diploma in German Letters,
Professor of Ecumenical Sciences at the University of Kaslik,
ex-Superior General of the Order of Saint Basil of Aleppo.

Table of Contents


Historical Context

Chapter I: A Questionable Patriarch in the Patriarchate of Antioch (1619-1628)

Chapter II: The Patriarchate of Antioch Under Ignatios III Atieh (1682- beginning of 1634)

  1. Synod of Ras-Baalbek (June 1628)
  2. Ignatios III and Rome
  3. Death of patriarch Ignatios III
  4. Latin Missionaries at Work

Chapter III: From Metropolitan (1612-1634) to Patriarch (8 months) Karmeh First Martyr of the Union of Antioch With Rome

  1. Meletios Karmeh: Metropolitan of Aleppo (February 1612-April 1634)
  2. Euthymios II Karmeh, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (May 1, 1634-January 1, 1635)
  3. Patriarch Karmeh Martyr of the Union
  4. The Latin Missionaries at Work

Chapter IV: The Patriarchate of Antioch Under Euthymios III, Originally from Chios (1635-1647)

  1. A Timid Patriarch
  2. Beginning of a Roman Crusade in the Patriarchate of Antioch

Chapter V: The Patriarchate of Antioch On the Way to Catholicization Under Macarios III Zaim (1647-1672)

  1. The “Zaim” Macarios III of Aleppo
  2. Macarios III and the Orthodox World (1647-1660)
  3. Macarios III and His Ecumenical Mission (1661-1672)
  4. The Greeks of Antioch on the Way to Catholicization under Macarios III

Chapter VI: Antiochian Conception of the Union According to the Studied Accounts (This chapter will be the subject of another part)

  1. Place of the Council of Florence in These Transactions
  2. Privileged Place of Rome
  3. Autonomy of Antioch and Inter-Orthodox Collegiality
  4. Living the Union in Collaboration with Local Visibly Separated Churches
  5. Possibility of Being in Communion with Rome without Breaking with its Orthodox Brothers


Initials and Abbreviations
Sources and Bibliography
Endnotes: 1-300 and 301-515
This whole thesis is available for downloading as a single file Adobe Acrobat file (PDF). To download please click this link: Orthodox Antioch Union (676 KB).

Historical Part


After the Great Schism of 1054, the Patriarchate of Antioch was the only one of the strictly speaking Orthodox patriarchates[1]that entered into communion with the See of Rome, a communion remaining until today.[2] However, the entire patriarchate did not accept the union movement, and a sorrowful division took place within it; [3] this division had painful consequences and these remain until now. Moreover, even those who accepted the union always had problems with the See of Rome for most of the time Rome was skeptical about the purity of their Catholicism and even treated them as Gallicans and “half schismatics.” [4] This dissertation, which does not pretend to be exhaustive, could shed some light on the reasons for this mutual misunderstanding throughout the more than 250 years of union. This study is limited to a very important period in the upheaval of religious ideas in the Near East. This period began in the 17th century when all the successive partial unions had fermented. [5] More precisely it began with the exposure to the Latin missionaries in the East after the foundation of the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. [6] From the reports that the missionaries addressed to it, this Roman Congregation noticed that the Patriarchate of Antioch happened to be in a unique situation in comparison to the other Churches of the East. It was not very hostile to the Holy See of Rome and its separation with this see had never been sanctioned by a formal act of excommunication, although it had followed the capital of the Byzantine Empire and later the Ottoman Empire in its Eastern stance in the second millennium. The conciliatory attitude of this Orthodox patriarchate was very clear in 1054, when Patriarch Peter III of Antioch (1053-1056) wished to assume the role of arbitrator between Rome and Constantinople. [7] When an occasion of dialogue presented itself, the Patriarchate of Antioch did not give a deaf ear. Patriarch Theodosius IV Villehardouin (1275-1283/1284) consented to the union proclaimed at the Council of Lyons (1274). [8] Patriarch Dorotheos I (1434-1451) seemed to have welcomed the decisions of Florence, [9] and the retired Patriarch Michael Sabbagh (1577-1580 died in 1592) sent a profession of Catholic faith with a letter of submission to Pope Sixtus V and another letter to Cardinal Giulio Antonio Santoro di Santa Severina (May 1586). [10]

Despite its conciliatory attitude, the Patriarchate of Antioch had not accepted to bend before the western theological “bombardment” which lasted nearly one century of the missions, either Roman or Protestant. [11] In fact, the result was the splitting of the patriarchate into Catholic and Orthodox branches (1724), while leaving some followers to the Protestants.

Our study is limited to the first fifty years of the life of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to better understand the concept of union in this patriarchate before the deep rooting of the ideas of primacy and union that the missionaries brought with them. This first fifty year period coincides with the death of the great Patriarch of Antioch, Macarios III of Aleppo (1647-1672), who certainly was aware of the new conceptions mentioned, but was also from the pre-missionary generation. He was the disciple of Karmeh and later his successor in the episcopate of Aleppo in 1635. [12] Beginning with the successor of Macarios of Aleppo we observe the presence of numerous students from Capuchin and Jesuit [13] missionaries and even students of the Roman College for the Propagation of the Faith [14] who were bearers of a new conception of Catholicism that was foreign to traditional Orthodox ecclesiology. This brought about the collision between these two ecclesiological conceptions that inevitably caused the dismemberment and division of the patriarchate, and which also caused uneasiness in the juridically Catholic branch.

Our research will consist of an exposé of the life of this patriarchate and its relations with other Christians at that time in order to trace the conception that it had for union with Rome, a conception which could perhaps better regulate the relations between the Roman Church and the Eastern Churches today.

Historical Context

While the Christian West was torn apart by the Thirty Years War for already four years, [15] the East was suffering from a regime of absolute power [16] and did not know how to rid itself of the overwhelming yoke of the Ottomans, who had conquered Syria (1516) and Egypt (1517) after the conquest of Constantinople (1453).

It is true that a certain tolerance existed at the beginning of this conquest but the conquerors’ thirst for money became more and more fiery. This thirst was quenched only by exactions and deliberate rebuffs imposed on the destitute Christians. [17] The painful situation of Christians was complicated by the interplay of western rivalries, imported in all its acuteness in the center of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, in order to develop political and commercial influences on one hand, and to find support in Eastern Orthodoxy on the other hand. The first deposition of Patriarch Cyril I Lucaris in 1623 was a very eloquent sign of these political-religious rivalries which the western ambassadors brought to Constantinople. [18] These rivalries and divisions were very favorable to the interests of the Ottomans: they allowed them a free field.

The deposition and enthroning of prelates procured good sums of money for the Ottomans. Speaking only about the patriarchs of Constantinople, there were thirty-two patriarchs enthroned during the fifty years we are studying. [19] Christianity under the Ottoman yoke slowly became more impoverished and consequently tried to survive its extermination while waiting for its liberation. This oppression forced many eastern prelates to turn themselves toward the Christian West or Russia and request help from the tsar and Christian princes. [20] Others had relied heavily on the influence of semi-autonomous princes such as those of Mount Lebanon at that time, [21] but this sometimes cost them a blind obedience. The assistance brought by the missionaries after the foundation of the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith [22] could only have been applauded by Eastern Christians. As priests of the Church of Christ, these missionaries were sent to them by the Lord to be liberators of the oppressed.

A Questionable Patriarch in the Patriarchate of Antioch

In 1622 the Patriarchate of Antioch had two canonically consecrated hierarchs: Ignatios III Atieh and Cyril IV Dabbas. Both had been consecrated patriarchs of Antioch on the same day, Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, April 24, 1619; [23] Atieh was consecrated in Constantinople and Dabbas in Amioun, near Tripoli, Syria [present day Lebanon].

This division of the patriarchate of Antioch was caused by the pretensions of the preceding patriarch, Athanasios II Dabbas. He had promised that once he was elected patriarch he would pay what was lacking of the kharage tax for the Greeks of Damascus. [24] His election took place in September 1611 [25] but the promise was never upheld. Then the tragedy began. Athanasios II traveled across the country and arrived in Constantinople in1614. He demanded that the Ecumenical Patriarch, Timothy II, depose Meletios Karmeh whom the same Athanasios had consecrated on February 12, 1612 as Archbishop of Aleppo. [26] Meletios joined him in Constantinople and with his remarkable wisdom reconciled himself with his patriarch and returned to Aleppo three months later. [27] Patriarch Athanasios was not able to complete the unpaid kharage tax for the year 1619. He was brought before the pasha of Damascus who imprisoned him [28] until he paid a large ransom; he was then permitted to travel to Tripoli where he died. [29]

Meanwhile, the Damascenes, unhappy with their shepherd, sent the Metropolitan of Saida, Ignatios Atieh to Constantinople to have him consecrated Patriarch of Antioch by the hands of Timothy II. [30] The consecration took place on the same day that Athanasios II’s brother, Cyril IV Dabbas, Metropolitan of Bosra, [31] had himself consecrated at Amioun.

Since Ignatios III Atieh had Timothy II of Constantinople on his side, Cyril IV Dabbas requested the support of another patriarch, Cyril Lucaris of Alexandria, who was then very influential. In fact, Dabbas returned to Alexandria around the end of 1619 and concelebrated there with the Alexandrian patriarch. This patriarch exhorted the Damascenes to receive Cyril IV Dabbas as their patriarch but the response of the faithful only irritated Lucaris. [32]

The Patriarchate of Antioch thus found itself between two equally powerful and equally legitimate obediences. On one side, Ignatios III was supported by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Emir of Mount Lebanon, Fakhr ed-Din II Maanide; on the other side, Cyril IV was supported by the Patriarch of Alexandria and the pasha of Tripoli, Ibn-Sifa. [33] The baraat of the sultan would be successively accorded to the highest bidder, and the Greek-Melkite faithful of Antioch had to pay the expenses of it. [34] This is exactly what happened a little later for the patriarchs of Constantinople, the only difference being that support did not come much from non-Christian governors, but from Christian ambassadors themselves who had disputed the Calvinization or Romanization of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. [35]

Ignatios III was less ambitious than his competitor. He remained close to his protector, Fakhr ed-Din and always occupied himself with his works which were under the domination of this emir, whereas Cyril IV on several occasions had recourse to secular hands in an attempt to obtain obedience from all the bishops who had not approved him. [36] The typical case was the Eparchy of Aleppo which at the first remained far from all this dissention. [37] But the archbishop of this city, Meletios Karmeh, who had previously been on bad terms with Athanasios II Dabbas, was not satisfied with the situation of the divided patriarchate or with Cyril IV Dabbas, brother of his predecessor. [38] He expressed his dissatisfaction by refusing to be in communion with Cyril IV who spent forty-two days in Aleppo without being able to concelebrate with the local bishop. [39] From Aleppo, Cyril IV returned to Constantinople. There he again met his old colleague of Alexandria, Cyril Lucaris, who had become ecumenical patriarch on November 4, 1620 and who had returned to be enthroned in Constantinople after his first deposition. [40] Cyril IV went to Valachia and Moldavia to collect money for his patriarchate with letters of recommendation from Cyril I Lucaris. [41] This collection permitted him to pay for a new order to have his competitor Ignatios III deposed, [42] while drawing from the new moral force by concelebrating with his old friend Cyril I Lucaris in Constantinople. [43]

Cyril IV returned to Aleppo on August 28, 1624. [44] He asked the bishop of the city to concelebrate with him even though he had refused to accommodate him in the Greek Melkite archiepiscopal residence. [45] But Meletios Karmeh refused to concelebrate with him because of the divisions he created in the Patriarchate of Antioch and because he had even appealed to Turkish authorities to affirm his authority. [46] Some Greek faithful who were dissatisfied with their bishop regrouped around Cyril IV and the diocese of Aleppo was divided in two: part for the local bishop, Meletios Karmeh, and part for Patriarch of Antioch, Cyril IV. [47] Cyril, supported by the rebels and some favorable elements of the other Christian communities of Aleppo, usurped all the rights of the local bishop. [48] He even hosted a great banquet gathering the notables of all the rites and all the religious communities of Aleppo in the presence of the Armenian and Jacobite patriarchs and some official representatives of European countries. He forced the archbishop of Aleppo to come to the dinner that night (14 November 1624) and intimidated him in front of the whole assembly in order to make him concelebrate with him. However, the archbishop, on the pretext of being ill, excused himself and left the dinner. [49] The patriarch did everything possible to gain the favor of the local bishop, but Karmeh left the diocese to the patriarch by permitting his priests to concelebrate with him. [50]

On the feast of Pascha 1625, the bishops of Hama, Homs and Paneas concelebrated with Patriarch Cyril IV in the cathedral of Aleppo. [51] The next day the four met together and signed a document which the Greek Melkite priests of Aleppo were forced to sign with some lay people. This document solicited the patriarchal tax of twelve years from Meletios Karmeh. [52] This took place on May 11, 1625 before the Pasha of Damascus, Mustafa, who went to seize Aleppo. [53] The archbishop received eighty lashes and spent twelve days in prison until the faithful paid two thousand ecus, and until he himself would sign a document in which he declared his willingness to concelebrate with Cyril IV. [54] But Karmeh would not do it: he took refuge in the home of a notable Muslim and only a few people knew of his refuge. [55]

On March 31, 1626 there was a large assembly of the notables of all the Christian communities of Aleppo. Cyril IV invited Karmeh to concelebrate with him but the archbishop refused a second time. The next day, which was Palm Sunday, Karmeh went to the cathedral where he cried before the people and the patriarch himself. [56] Immediately he left and settled himself in the home of a great functionary of the Ottoman Empire in order to return to Constantinople on April 10. Some time later, Cyril IV followed him to the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Cyril I Lucaris; both presented their complaints to him. After some never-ending discussion, Lucaris and his synod agreed with the wise Archbishop of Aleppo. [57]

Karmeh returned to Aleppo by way of the sea and passed through Cyprus and Tripoli. On March 30, 1627 he was in Aleppo where he celebrated Pascha the next day to the joy of all the faithful of the city. [58] But the drama did not end there. For on October 3, Cyril IV Dabbas also arrived in Aleppo armed with new orders from Constantinople and put Karmeh, with twenty-seven persons, priests and laity, in the prison of Moutassellem. The case was taken before Moutassellem in the absence of the pasha of Aleppo who was in Mosul. [59] Again the Aleppians paid the ransom for the prisoners and Cyril IV lived on, abandoned and hated by the Christians of Aleppo. He even sensed that he would be assassinated. He fled at night to Damascus where the faithful received him only after he paid a considerable amount to free himself from the exactions and the deliberate rebuffs which the cousin of the patriarch made him submit to. [60] He remained there until the feast of Pascha (13 April 1628) after which he presented himself to Emir Maanide, Fakhr-ed-Din II, insisting on the necessity of convoking a synod of all the bishops of the patriarchate to settle once and for all the question of the legitimate patriarch, in dispute since 1619. [61] He soon regretted making this request because he knew very well that the majority of bishops were already tired of this dispute between the two patriarchs. More importantly he knew they were tired of the deliberate rebuffs of the Turks that Cyril IV and his cousin aroused each time a diocese did not want to receive him. Moreover, he had not forgotten that his competitor, Ignatios III Atieh was the protégé of the Emir and the candidate of the Damascenes. [62]

The Synod gathered on June 1, 1628 at Ras Baalbek where the Druze Emir Fakhr-ed-Din was then living. All the bishops of the patriarchate were present with Ignatios III himself; only Cyril IV Dabbas was not present because he sensed his end. [63] Dabbas was chained and taken by force from Damascus to Ras-Baalbek, but a decision had already been made: Ignatios III Atieh was proclaimed the only legitimate patriarch and Cyril had to disappear. When Dabbas arrived he was assassinated by the soldiers of the Druze emir and thrown into Ain-ar-Raheb near Hermel. [64] Ignatios III Atieh and the clergy who were faithful to him were accomplices in this wrongdoing; their involvement remained concealed. [65]

The Patriarchate Under Ignatios III Atieh
(1628 – Beginning 1634)
1)Synod of Ras-Baalbek (June 1628)

The extraordinary Synod of Ras-Baalbek in June 1628 which deposed Cyril IV Dabbas by recognizing Ignatios III Atieh as the only legitimate patriarch occupied itself with several other urgent questions of the patriarchate. It promulgated twenty canons reproving bad habits which had been slowly introduced among the clergy and laity. [66]

The first six canons related to the election and enthroning of the patriarch. This synod of bishops established the inalienable law of electing three candidates with the consent of the people. All the gathered bishops would have to draw lots for one of these three candidates without the laity interfering in it. When the candidate was chosen he would be consecrated patriarch by the gathered bishops and then civil confirmation would be procured. Recourse to the governor to have the patriarch named without the consent of the synod of bishops was categorically reproved, and all those who did not follow these norms were excommunicated. [67]

The seventh canon treated the question of simony which was very wide spread among all the hierarchs mainly because of the enormous sums of money the Ottomans exacted on the occasion of each new patriarchal election. [68]

The patriarch obtained his money from his bishops, they from their pastors, pastors from the faithful. The best occasion for this was certainly that of the administration of the sacraments. [69]

The other thirteen canons relate mainly to bad customs which had infiltrated among the Christians from contact with non-Christians who surrounded them. [70] All this seems to give us more or less a clear view on the life of the Christian in the Ottoman Empire, conveyed by the relationship between laity and clergy, clergy and government. [71]

The reason for all these decisions was certainly the continuous repetition of abuses committed by the clergy and the exactions which the Christians suffered because of the Ottomans. [72] But what seems most decisive in these resolutions is the new pressure exerted by the Latin missionaries since 1625. Touraine Capuchins arrived in Aleppo (Syria) in 1625 [73] and founded a monastery there. [74] The Jesuits and Carmelites also established houses in 1627 [75] although two Jesuits were unsuccessful in the first foundation in 1625. [76]The British Capuchins already had residences in Saida (1625) and Beirut (1628) and were attempting to influence the local hierarchy there. [77]

2) Ignatios III and Rome

The influence of the Latin missionaries is revealed to us above all by the solicitation made by the Capuchin, Adrian of Brosse, missionary in Beirut, in favor of Patriarch Ignatios III Atieh and his clergy. [78] This missionary requested the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith for the faculty to absolve the patriarch and his accomplices for the assassination of Cyril IV Dabbas. [79] He also solicited grants for the Greek patriarch of Antioch to deal with the irregularities of simony among the Greeks, in case they wished to unite to the Roman Church [80] for Patriarch Ignatios III with his accomplices had shown a certain disposition to “conversion.” [81]

This request of the Capuchin Adrian of Brosse was misunderstood at the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and surprised the Roman cardinals who naturally posed the union of the whole Greek Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch as a precondition [82] since no member of the patriarchal clergy had officially requested this absolution. Truly it was the initiative of the British Capuchins of Beirut who wanted to hasten the global union of this patriarchate with Rome. [83] After speaking about it on 5 July 1631, neither the missionaries nor the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith mentioned it again. [84] For such a grave question, everyone wanted to do everything possible to bring it to good terms; in all seriousness we see that the request was very pretentious on the part of the Capuchins. [85]

3) Death of Patriarch Ignatios III

Despite this whole question, agitated by the Capuchin Adrian of Brosse, the name of Patriarch Ignatios III began to be commemorated in the diptychs of the Eparchy of Aleppo on August 6, 1629. [86] The patriarch did not dare return to Damascus where the family of the deceased Patriarch, Cyril IV Dabbas, was very influential. [87] He remained in Beirut and its surrounding area until the beginning of the Ottoman war against Emir Fakhr ed-Din II in 1633. [88] With the defeat and capture of the emir, Ignatios III Atieh was deprived of his powerful protector and had to flee from the Ottoman authorities. [89]

Atieh happened to be in Saida assisting at the death and burial of the local bishop, Mark; he attempted to return to Beirut at night in a military disguise. On the way he was ambushed by the Druze who mistook him for a soldier and struck him down from his horse and killed him. He was buried in a church near the Damour River near Choueifat. [90] This was probably in January 1634. [91]

4) Latin Missionaries at Work

According to the directives of the recently established Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the Latin missionaries had two distinct purposes, both conducted for the edification of the kingdom of God. On one hand they were obliged to affirm the Catholics and preserve them from the dangers of schism, heresy and apostasy; on the other hand to convert the schismatics, heretics and infidels. [92] The Catholics of Syria at that time were the Maronites who had been totally united to Rome since the Crusades [93] but were no less suspect of errors and heresies. [94] Along with these united Easterners, there were a good number of Latins mainly in the large cities such as Aleppo, Saida, Tripoli and Damascus. Most of them were there for business reasons or for diplomatic functions, thus only temporary. [95] The work of the Latin missionaries was geared more toward conversion by combating Calvinist infiltrations which were already made in the north of the Ottoman empire and especially in Constantinople. [96]

The springboard from which these missionaries had to throw themselves into the Greek-Melkite, Jacobite, Armenian and Nestorian communities had to be the chapels of the consuls and particularly the Maronite churches. [97] But the work was not so easy because these Christians were linguistically and ethnologically different than the Latins. [98] There were also spiritual, intellectual and national rivalries among the workers themselves. [99]

The Franciscans could in no way tolerate that intruders would gather what they had sowed for centuries. [100] In fact, the affair of the first two Jesuits who arrived in Aleppo in 1625 was only the prelude to so many other episodes requiring the repeated intervention of the Roman Congregation by the intermediary of the superior generals and the consuls. [101] There were many who wanted to divide the Eastern Christian communities among the different Latin orders who had sent their missionaries there. [102] Quarrels were sometimes so violent that they scandalized the non-Latin Christians and even the Muslims. [103] Yet little by little their presence became necessary, either for the instruction of the people or for the moral and spiritual support of these Christians. [104] The Greek-Melkite clergy and people of Antioch gained the sympathy of the Jesuits and Capuchins while, before the arrival of the new wave of missionaries in 1625, the Franciscans had already won some recruits in Aleppo including their bishop Meletios Karmeh. [105] The work of missionaries began to take root in Syria mainly through this Greek Melkite metropolitan of Aleppo because he never wanted to distinguish between Jesuits, Capuchins or Franciscans. Essential for him was the spiritual good of these Christians who were suffocating because of Ottoman oppression and total ignorance. [106]

From Metropolitan (1612-1634) to Patriarch (8 Months) Karmeh, First Martyr of the Union of Antioch With Rome
1) Meletios Karmeh: Metropolitan of Aleppo (February 1612 - April 1634).

Born in Hama (Syria) in 1572, [107] the young Abdel-Karim Karmeh received religious education from his father, Houran, a priest, and his mother Saadat who kept herself busy with him after the assassination of his father. [108] At an adult age he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Places with his friend Barlaam [109] and became a monk in a monastery in Jerusalem where he remained two years. [110] Upon the request of his fellow citizens he returned to Hama and placed himself in the service of the local bishop. Simeon ordained him deacon [111] and then much later priest [112] and kept him in his service in Hama. [113] This young priest, a flower of the Hamawites, was directed by Providence to Aleppo to regulate some civil formalities on behalf of his fellow citizens whose esteem and confidence he had earned. [114] The Aleppians were very perceptive of the eloquence of the young priest and his virtue and begged him to remain with them as their shepherd after fifteen years of widowhood. [115] Thus he was consecrated Metropolitan of Aleppo on February 12, 1612 by the imposition of the hands of Patriarch Athanasios II Dabbas in Damascus. [116] Immediately he went to work; he contacted the Franciscans in Aleppo to find the means to instruct the ignorant people and to print liturgical books in Arabic. The only language the majority of the Greeks of the Patriarchate of Antioch understood at that time was Arabic. [117] In 1585 the Greek-Melkites of Aleppo witnessed negotiations between the Latin Bishop Leonard Abel and their retired Patriarch Michael Sabbagh who had made his profession of faith. [118] The faithful were already suspected of “Roman” sympathies more than the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Antioch and even those of other Orthodox patriarchates. [119] The establishment of cordial relations between Metropolitan Karmeh and the Franciscan commissioner in Aleppo only confirmed these suspicions. This motivated Patriarch Athanasios II to go to Constantinople in 1614 [120] to obtain the deposition of Karmeh. [121] But the metropolitan was able to defend himself before Patriarch Timothy II and his counselors and returned three months later to Aleppo; [122] there he continued his reforms in all the areas ordered by the Synod of Ras-Baalbek in 1628. [123] Besides this he continued the translation of liturgical books, which he had begun when he became bishop. In September 1612 the Typicon of Saint Sabas had already been translated into Arabic as well as the Sticherarion and a Liturgicon. [124] The other liturgical books followed but there were few copyists and little money. Karmeh then resolved to ask assistance from the Franciscans of Aleppo, [125] whose commissioner wrote a letter to Rome in 1617. In this letter the commissioner congratulated the dispositions of the Greek-Melkite Metropolitan of Aleppo for union with Rome. [126] Around 1619 the metropolitan himself wrote directly to Pope Paul V (1605-1621) informing him of the situation of the Christians under the Ottoman yoke, of their ignorance and the lack of professors and books. He asked for specialists in the Arabic and Greek languages to instruct the Christian children and to help him with his translations from Greek into Arabic. [127] The pope responded very favorably by stimulating the teaching of Arabic in Europe which had been instituted by Pope Clement V in 1311 in the universities of Rome, Paris, Oxford, Salamanica and Bologne. [128] The metropolitan of Aleppo considered the response of the pope like the dove, which announced the end of the flood to Noah; this was the end of ignorance and the destruction of its tyranny. [129] Since he foresaw the financial difficulties which would follow, in 1621 he sent his Protosyncellos Absalon to Rome with a letter addressed to Pope Paul V to obtain his grants. [130] Absalon was accompanied by the Franciscan Father Thomas Obicini de Novare, Guardian of Jerusalem. Absalon was well received and well heard. The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith assigned him twenty five ecus on his arrival to Rome and fifty ecus for the journey, and prescribed that he purchase three collections of the Greek general councils and some books of the Greek Fathers [131] with fifty copies of the Bellarmine’s Catechism printed in Arabic. [132] The grants that Karmeh had solicited from Rome were not mentioned. The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith had reservations about translating the Bible into Arabic since the fourth rule of the Index prohibited its translation into vulgar languages. [133] However, the Congregation had reassured Father Absalon that the Bible would be translated into Arabic and printed. [134] In a later letter addressed to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, [135] Metropolitan Karmeh proposed five conditions for the success of this translation: 1) to send the Maronite priest, Gaspar al-Gharib of Nicosia to Aleppo; [136] 2) to also send Fr. Thomas Obicini de Novare, Guardian of Jerusalem; [137] 3) to teach the missionaries that Rome intended to send him, Arabic as well as Greek books; [138] 4) to finish the translation before his death and the death of the old Fr. Gaspar; [139] and finally 5) that the work of translation would be done in Aleppo and then sent to Rome; there it could be compared with other manuscripts and then printed. Karmeh also asked for the printing of seven liturgical Greek books. [140]

On September 4, 1623, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith examined Karmeh’s requests in its first gathering under the new Pope Urban VIII and accepted to send him Fr. Gaspar while creating a commission in Rome for the Arabic Bible. [141] It communicated its desire to Father Gaspar of Nicosia who excused himself in a letter of 1625, stating that he was not able to go to Aleppo because of his infirmities, his advanced age and the little harmony that existed between Greeks and Maronites. The Roman Congregation accepted his regrets [142] but pursued the correspondence with Karmeh through its intermediary. [143]

Meanwhile the Capuchins and the Jesuits arrived in Aleppo. [144] Karmeh, who never recognized Cyril IV Dabbas as Patriarch of Antioch, [145] was unable to iron out the differences which had arisen with Cyril IV. On May 11, 1625 he had to appear before Pasha Mustapha at the request of Cyril IV. [146] He was beaten, thrown in prison and was not released until the May 23. [147] On April 10, 1626, he went to Constantinople to appeal to Patriarch Cyril I Lucaris who agreed with him this time despite the sympathies Lucaris had for his old friend, Patriarch Cyril IV Dabbas. [148] Strengthened by the support of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Karmeh returned to Aleppo on March 30, 1627 and peacefully occupied his eparchy and pursued his translations. [149] The Capuchins of Aleppo asked him immediately to send a testimony of their apostolate in Aleppo to Rome. Karmeh gave it without hesitation. On May 19, he addressed a letter to Pope Urban VIII manifesting his desire to see him personally as well as his joy concerning the arrival in Aleppo of the Capuchin, Father Pacifico Scaligère and his confreres whom the Christians of Aleppo loved and venerated. [150] He even asked for a letter of blessing which would honor him and bring him closer to Christ. [151] But the Jesuit Fathers who had returned to Aleppo 12 April 1627, this time with an order of the Sultan, were not mentioned in this letter. [152] In fact he took into consideration the recommendations of Cyril I Lucaris who was hostile to the Jesuits. [153] Nevertheless, Karmeh came to an agreement with the new arrivals concerning the education of the Greeks at his residence. During his absence from Aleppo (April 1628-August 1629) Father Queyrot opened a school in the residence Greek Melkite headquarters in Aleppo and the number of Greek students increased immediately to thirty-four. [154] Meanwhile the Synod of Ras-Baalbek took place and deposed Cyril IV Dabbas. [155] Karmeh made a short trip to the large towns under Emir Fakhr ed-Din II; his intention was to study the subject of all the existing Arabic versions of the Bible and to convey this information to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. [156]

In Aleppo, the Greek Archdeacon Michael had very good relations with the Capuchin Fathers. In April 1629 he wrote two successive letters to Pope Urban VIII in which he took pride in having taught Turkish and Arabic to Father Pacifico and his companions who were going to Persia. He added that he was starting to teach Arabic to the Capuchin, François-Marie de Paris and his companions, who cared for their salvation and that of the Christians of Aleppo among whom they had sowed charity and concord. That, he said, is why all the Christians of Aleppo were content with their conduct. [157] Michael asked for several Arabic and Greek books: a book of Avicenna and a New Testament in Arabic and an Old Testament in Greek. [158] The young archdeacon also manifested his desire to personally see the pope, whom the Capuchins spoke about abundantly, but noted that distance and other factors prevented him from making the voyage. [159]

The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith thanked the Greek Orthodox archdeacon for his kindness toward the Capuchins of Aleppo. [160] It even sent him the books he requested and exhorted him to attempt “diligently to bring his nation to the holy union.” [161]

Upon his return to Aleppo, Metropolitan Karmeh wrote to Cardinal Borgia and other cardinals of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith asking them to thank the pope in his name for his kindness and to commend his Archdeacon Michael to those who sent him the books he had requested. [162] On this occasion, Michael himself wrote and acknowledged the receipt of the Congregation’s letter and manifested himself ready to remain “in the service of Cardinal Borgia and our lord, the pope in order to obey God and in view of the reintegration of the Christians and their fusion in the love of Christ.” [163] But it seems that the Capuchins had set him against the Franciscans of Aleppo, especially on the occasion of a sermon which the Capuchin Father Agathange wished to preach in the Maronite Church of Aleppo. The Venetians and the Franciscans were in concert with each other so that the sermon would not take place. [164] Michael said that all the Christians of Aleppo had been scandalized by this fact, especially since everyone knew the reason for which the missionaries had been sent by the pope into the Arab countries: “to preach and instruct the Christians.” [165] This scandal was created among the Christians of Aleppo by the dissension of the missionaries, and the Capuchins themselves had exploited it to attack their Franciscan confreres. [166] Thought was given to dividing the Christian communities of Aleppo among the Franciscans, Capuchins, Jesuits and Discalced Carmelites. [167] The account of the Jesuit Father, Jerome Queyrot of December 26, 1629 proved that all these quarrels, which took place in Aleppo, were true. [168]

According to the Capuchins the scandal made three bishops of Aleppo, already won over to the Union, “return to schism,” [169] yet, the Greek-Melkite Orthodox metropolitan maintained his good relations with the Latin missionaries and the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. The Congregation even confided to him and to his Archdeacon Michael the revision of the Arabic catechism, [170] which it had sent to them by the intermediary of Protosyncellus Absalon in 1622, [171] and the Gospel Book sent in 1629. [172]

In October 1631, Karmeh thanked the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith for the “spiritual bread, i.e. the holy books” which he had received from the hands of the Capuchin Fathers of Aleppo. [173] He wrote, “the one to whom Christ said, ‘feed my lambs,’ always occupies himself with the lambs that Christ bought by his blood.” [174] At the same time he let them know he had already translated the Greek Euchologion and Horologion into Arabic because some Greek Orthodox priests did not know Greek. He wished to have the books printed in Rome since the Christians of the countries in the East were poor and they could not pay the cost of the transcription. [175] The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith examined the question on April 26, 1632 and accepted to print them after their revision from the old manuscripts of the Greek Euchologion and Horologion. They requested that Karmeh send these Greek manuscripts with the Arabic version [176] because the Latins had discovered mistakes in the administration of the sacraments among the Italo-Greeks of Calabria and of Pouilles. Because of the mixture of unknown languages and less orthodox ceremonies the validity of the sacraments among the Greeks was suspect. [177] Karmeh did not become discouraged. In 1632 he sent the first five chapters of Genesis, [178] carefully corrected with the assistance of Capuchin Father Agathange who Karmeh testifies already knew the Arabic language well. Other experts of Aleppo were consulted and tried to render the text as close as possible to the Vulgate. Sometimes, however, they had to correct certain expressions which they had compared to the Hebrew texts and translated them according to the rules of the Arabic language. [179] Karmeh excused himself from “daring” to do it since the experts of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith were (according to his own expressions) “more learned and more virtuous” then he. He added that he understood it was only for “the good of the Christians and nothing other.” [180]

In the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith on July 4, 1633, Cardinal Ubaldini showed the other cardinals that the Arabic version of Genesis which was sent by the Greek metropolitan of Aleppo contained improper words and some notable differences with that of the Vulgate. [181] The secretary, Francesco Ingoli, prepared two letters concerning this matter, one to the Greek Metropolitan Karmeh and the other to Capuchin Father Agathange. [182] In the first letter he thanked the metropolitan for his “diligence in the revision of the five chapters of the Arabic Bible which he had sent them.” He thanked him also “for the new version which was given to some intelligent persons and confirmed what the Capuchin Father Agathange said to him. As for the Greek dictionary and the Greek Bible, the order had been given to send them to him.” [183] In the second letter, Ingoli exhorted Fr. Agathange to show the Orthodox metropolitan “that it was not advisable to use elegant words in the sacred books because they could easily lose their meaning. This is why the Latin version as well as the Greek version had been made with simple words and ordinary phrases. Besides it was not good to borrow the Alexandrian and Antiochian versions too much because they were very ancient...” [184] Ingoli read a speech on the translation of the Vulgate in Arabic in front of Pope Urban VIII [185]: “the Bible, which is printed in France, [186] could not respond to the needs of the Eastern Churches represented by Matran Karmeh, Archbishop of the Melkites of Aleppo; its price would be so high that only an insufficient number of copies could be sent to these Churches. Besides, the text whose printing was in progress there was one of six Arabic versions used by the above mentioned Churches. It was filled with errors, as the previously mentioned archbishop had remarked several times. It is necessary then that our master (the pope) order our Vulgate version be followed by the translators who used it there until the present for various reasons...” [187] The principal reason is that “if one sends our Vulgate to the East, without doubt the six Arabic versions full of errors would disappear.” [188]

The Capuchin Father, Bonaventure of Loudes, describes for us Karmeh’s reaction to the reading of the Congregation’s letter in Aleppo. When his confrere, Agathange, was not in Aleppo, Bonaventure opened the envelope which contained the two letters and gave one to Karmeh, who felt “a little frustrated,” [189] but with the reasons given by the secretary of the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith in the letter addressed to Fr. Agathange, Karmeh “was satisfied.” [190] Fr. Bonaventure informed the Congregation of it on December 9, 1633.

2) Euthymios II Karmeh, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (May 1, 1634 - January 1, 1635)

The metropolitan of Aleppo soon became the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. At the death of Ignatios III Atieh [191] the Greek Orthodox of the Patriarchate of Antioch did not hesitate to choose Karmeh as their shepherd and patriarch, [192] despite his “Roman” tendencies which were well known in the East. [193] He was chosen because he was a man of God wanting only the best for his flock and for all Christians of the East without distinction> He was a holy and educated man and that was enough for the sheep of Christ. [194]

The Damascenes, who generally did not look favorably on those from the capital of northern Syria, [195] hastened to Aleppo to lead him to Damascus where he arrived on April 23, 1634. [196] The Greek metropolitans who were waiting for him there consecrated him patriarch on May 1. [197] As he preached in Aleppo, he did the same in Damascus and sent encyclicals to all the faithful of the patriarchate exhorting them to always remain faithful to their Christian vocation. [198]

As we have seen, the episcopate of this great man began when he sent his protosyncellos, Absalon, and the Franciscan father, Thomas Obicini de Novare to Rome. [199] When Karmeh arrived to the patriarchate he prepared a new delegation, but this time more decisive. With the visit in Aleppo of the Maronite Bishop of Tripoli, Isaac Shiadraoui, [200] he prepared an expedition which began from Damascus in August 1634. The new Orthodox Patriarch, Euthymios II Karmeh delegated Protosyncellos Pachomios for the serious mission which awaited him. [201] He entrusted to him not only letters and Arabic translations of the Euchologion and Horologion, but also his own seal. Pachomios was to renew the union of Florence by signing it and applying the patriarchal seal in the name of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. [202] The delegation arrived in Rome in the beginning of January 1635. [203] The secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Monsignor Francesco Ingoli, [204] who knew how important the union of the Greek-Melkite Orthodox Patriarchate with Rome would be, gave us an account which no ecumenist of our day should ignore. [205] He writes, “When Euthymios Karmeh became Patriarch of Antioch he took charge of printing the Euchologion and the Horologion of the Greeks. With great diligence and fatigue for fifteen years, he had translated them into Arabic and corrected them according to the ancient manuscripts. By offering printed copies of these books to all his churches, he had intended to attach his archbishops, bishops, priests, and his people to the holy union. This affair was very important because this Patriarch is one who could truly be called Patriarch of Antioch. In fact, he succeeds those who intervened in the general councils, whereas the other councils, those of the Maronites, Jacobites and Nestorians, [206] were more national than general.” [207] “Besides,” continued the eminent Roman prelate, “in view that the people of Asia are without instruction, a better method to bring them to union could not be found than to correct and print their cultural books.The costly manuscripts would disappear and with time the printed corrections would be arranged; they would be instructed in Christian doctrine and would no longer question their heresy. Union would be made and restored without losing anyone among them.” [208] The same secretary, Francesco Ingoli, was well aware of the role which Euthymios had played; after the arrival of the Capuchins and Jesuits to Aleppo, this Orthodox metropolitan [209] had now become Patriarch of Antioch. For the Congregation’s meeting on January 7, 1635, Ingoli prepared a text on the necessary way of acting to coordinate the reprisals that the king and princes of the Christian west wished to exert against the Greek “schismatics” in order to have them return the sanctuaries of the Holy Land which they had usurped. [210] He inserted a very significant phrase on the subject of the Greek Patriarch of Antioch, requesting that he and the Greeks of his patriarchate be protected from these reprisals released against the Greeks. In fact, he wrote: “this patriarch had sent (some delegates) to Rome to make the union; he always had good dispositions toward this Holy See (of Rome), and he had favored our missionaries when he was archbishop of Aleppo.” [211]

This already shows the ambiance in which the delegate of the patriarch of Antioch found himself when he arrived in Rome. The three letters which he took to Pope Urban VIII as well as to the cardinal of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith said nothing about union [212] but they expressed a total confidence in the kindness of the Roman authorities. Patriarch Karmeh addressed himself to Pope Urban VIII as the steward of our Lord Jesus Christ. [213] He reminded him of his relations with the holy popes, Paul V (1605-1623) and Gregory XV (1621-1623), and asked him to have the Arabic Euchologion and Horologion which Pachomios brought printed in sufficient quantity for the whole Patriarchate of Antioch. [214] In his letter to the Congregation he also asked the cardinal to have the two mentioned books printed, not only for the usage of the eparchy of Aleppo but for the whole patriarchate of the East for which he was delegated. [215] But the most significant letter is the third, addressed to the pope and Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. [216] Patriarch Karmeh, who called himself “the minor disciple who loves the highest,” [217] at first cites the phrase of Christ: “ask and it will be given you, seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened” (Lk 11:9; Mt 7:7). He applied this counsel by asking the “generosity of the pope, our venerable master, and for the reverend Sacred Congregation to have the books printed for the Church of which Christ is the founder and the foundation and the base.[218] He reminded them that they had asked him to quickly send the manuscript versions to have them printed in Rome. For this, he says, through his “reverend confrere, Matran Isaac [219] and through his disciple, Protosyncellos Pachomios from the patriarchal residence, he had sent two books, the Euchologion and the Horologion, which he had translated from Greek into Arabic as best he could from a printed Greek copy and several manuscripts. [220] He added two rules which should be observed so that the edition of these two books be “useful and correct,” and asked for a thousand or so of each book. [221] All these letters were signed: “Euthymios the poor, Patriarch of Antioch.”

The presence of the Maronite Bishop Isaac in this delegation was significant. He had not informed his patriarch of this mission, [222] but was a friend of Karmeh since his first mission in Aleppo in 1629. [223] In fact, the Greek Patriarch of Antioch could not write everything he thought about on the subject of the union with Rome without running the risk of losing his life and attracting all the persecutions which were possible and imaginable against his clergy and faithful. [224] This was the solution: the letters said nothing about this union in case they fell into the hands of the Turks. Father Pachomios represented the patriarch in Rome for the printing of the mentioned books and mainly to sign the union in the name of the patriarch. For this reason he carried the patriarchal seal. The Maronite Bishop Isaac, well known at the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, had to be the witness of this union and above all, to testify to the authenticity of the mission of Pachomios. All this was understood by Rome. Bishop Isaac addressed a letter to the secretary, Francesco Ingoli, exposing the meaning of his mission and added that, by the printing of the Euchologion and Horologion in Arabic, the Greek Patriarch of Antioch wanted to unite “his whole flock with the Apostolic See” of Rome. [225]

The question was treated at the Congregation’s meeting of January 19, 1635 [226] but was not that simple to be resolved in the course of one session. On March 19, 1635 the same question was studied in the presence of the pope. [227] Cardinal Capponi gave his account in these words: “Patriarch Euthymios of Antioch sent us Father Pachomios, his archpriest, with the order to unite himself in the patriarch’s name to the Apostolic See (of Rome), by accepting the Council of Florence; he gave him his seal as well to use as his signature. Once this approbation would be signed, he should seal it with the aforesaid seal on which is engraved in Arabic: Euthymios, Patriarch of Antioch. In the letters which the aforesaid patriarch wrote to Your Holiness and to the Sacred Congregation he said nothing of this detail because, I believe, he feared that the letters would fall into the hands of the Turks. However, he approved it through his nuncio and envoy, the aforesaid Pachomios, who affirms that the patriarch told him to subscribe in his name to all that the pope and congregation said by sealing it with his seal and in particular to say that he accepted the Council of Florence. Nevertheless it is necessary that Your Holiness order a public act of union drawn up for this patriarch who was won over by the missionaries of Aleppo, so that the aforesaid Father Pachomios may take it with him and have it ratified by the Patriarch.” [228]

Pope Urban VIII saw the importance of the question and wanted to institute a particular meeting to study it better before taking the final decision. [229] It is noted, however, that the pope insinuated the possibility of concluding the union through the delegate of the patriarch. So that this union with the “reception” of the sacred Council of Florence be canonical, it would be necessary that he should make a public act in the name of his patriarch. [230] The particular meeting which would examine this question would be held in the presence of Cardinals Cremona, Ginetto and Antonio, as well as Fathers Herera, Horace Giustiniano and the Théatine Vincent Richardo. [231] It took place on July 16, 1635 in the palace of Cardinal Cremona and in the presence of all those who were expected; also present was Abbot Hilarion. [232] The question of this union was discussed and then Bishop Isaac of the Maronite nation and Fr. Pachomios “monk of Saint Basil and archpriest of the patriarch” in question were allowed to enter. They listened to them again and their petition was authenticated by the seal which Pachomios showed them. [233] After sending them out, the congregation rejected the petition, since the delegates did not bring special letters or at least letters of witnesses, nor even the profession of Catholic faith of the patriarch. [234] It was then decided to write to the patriarch and ask him to make a profession of faith according to the recently corrected formula which was imposed on all Easterners in the presence of two or three missionaries, or better yet, in the presence of the monks of the Family of Jerusalem. The patriarch himself had to sign it in his own hand and send it to Bishop Isaac either with his special letters of union or with the letters of witnesses. It would be better to send Father Pachomios again to Rome with these documents. [235] To reinforce the union it was proposed that the patriarch send some young Greek boys to be educated in Rome and be the promoters of the union once concluded. [236] These decisions were approved by the general congregation held in the presence of the pope on the following July 30. [237]

The Euchologion and Horologion sent by Patriarch Euthymios II Karmeh with his delegate Pachomios were submitted to Rome for a first censorship. The result was that the desire of the patriarch could not be satisfied because the books contained the same “errors” which were in the Greek books from which they were translated. It was necessary to correct the Greek text and then compare it with a Latin translation of the text of Patriarch Karmeh. [238] But this could take quite some time and it was feared that this would never finish, “if the habitual way of the congregations was followed.” [239] According to the views of Ingoli, the correction of these books was very important because they could be of service to the “Greek Catholics” themselves, [240] since the Greek Euchologia printed in Venice had “some heresies, many Judaic ceremonies, altered prayers of the Greek Fathers and various troparia and prayers of the new schismatics and heretics...” [241] Patriarch Karmeh was informed that his Arabic versions would be translated into Latin by Bishop Isaac of Tripoli so that they could be reviewed by the Roman theologians and corrected, if needed, in the questions of Catholic faith. [242]

In August 1635, Protosyncellos Pachomios returned home to his patriarch with the letters of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and some examples of the Arabic Pentateuch which had been recently printed in Rome. [243]

3) Patriarch Karmeh, Martyr of the Union

Since his accession to the episcopate (1612), Karmeh never wanted to conceal his enthusiasm for the union of the Greek Orthodox Church with Rome, in view, above all, for the safety of Christians in the midst of Muslims. [244] But to appreciate the courage of an Orthodox prelate who openly declared himself in favor of those who were called “Franks,” it is necessary to consider the political and social conditions in which the Christians of the Near East lived under the Turkish yoke during the 17th century. [245] In all probability, an Orthodox prelate such as Karmeh, with such a conciliatory attitude toward the Roman Church, would never have been able to survive for ten years with the Turks on one side and the Greek speaking people on the other side. [246] Yet, for twenty-two years Karmeh had resisted all the attacks and persecutions which were inflicted on him by the Turks and the Greeks. His martyrdom began soon after 1614 [247] and ended with “a malady of famous water” which attacked him suddenly. [248] He died on January 1, 1635, the feast of Saint Basil. [249]

The sad news of his death reached Rome in September 1635 in a letter sent to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith by the new patriarch of the Maronite nation, George Amira. [250] Rome manifested its visible sorrow when it heard about it, for “it had hoped that by his intermediary, the whole nation of the Greeks of Syria and adjoining provinces would unite with the Apostolic See” of Rome. [251]

Karmeh was not able to receive his delegate, Pachomios, on this earth [252] or formally sign the act of union drawn up by the group of Roman theologians who had gathered in the particular congregation on July 26, 1635. [253] However, he had the power to give the example to those after him who fought for the reconciliation of Christians at the risk of losing all, and also left a testament which he wrote on his deathbed. [254] In this testament he asked his brother, Thalge, who was living in Aleppo, to announce his death to the pope and to ask His Holiness to remember him in his prayers so that Our Lord Jesus Christ may pardon him his sins. [255] Because of his constant concern for the instruction and spiritual good of his faithful, he foresaw the days after his death. He prayed the pope greatly as “steward of God to all men,” [256] to send the Euchologion and Horologion to Aleppo when they had been printed at his expense. From Aleppo they would be distributed among the churches of the East under the control of the Father Guardian in order to avoid some priests doing business. [257]

The Congregation’s meeting 222 of November 11, 1636 learned about the testament of the deceased patriarch, [258] although the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith itself knew of his death since September 1635. [259] It is very significant to note the attitude of the Congregation in the remarks which its secretary, Ingoli, wrote on the back of the letter of Thalge: “this patriarch, Euthymios of Antioch, sent his archpriest (Pachomios) to unite with the Holy See (of Rome), conforming to the Council of Florence. This union was clarified by the aforesaid archpriest who had returned with the necessary letters, but soon after he left, [260] this patriarch died. It is piously believed that he was saved: for he gave full authority to the archpriest to accept the Council of Florence.” [261] It is known that the Euchologion was confided to Bishop Isaac of Tripoli to translate it into Latin. [262]

Thus ended the “ecumenical” mission of this holy prelate who had no enemies other than the enemies of the Church of Christ, and who patiently accepted their persecutions until his martyrdom. The accounts of the missionaries and other Eastern prelates, who had known him and all his students, are unanimous in proclaiming him a saint. The Jesuit Father, Amieu called the Orthodox-Catholic patriarch a “saint, a true Roman Catholic.” [263] The union which so profoundly began with this holy patriarch did not die with him: his martyrdom was the blood shed for the reconciliation of his brothers. This is proven to us by the attitude of his students and successors in the patriarchate, Euthymios III of Chios and Macarios III Zaim, who perhaps did not have the same courage of their teacher.

4) The Latin Missionaries at Work (1625-1634)

Under the impetus of the definitively erected Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, [264] all the large missionary orders of the west tried hard to respond to its wishes. Since Aleppo was then the capital of commerce in the east, it also became important for the “merchants of the Gospel.” [265] Among the cities of Syria, Aleppo had the largest percentage of Christians [266] and to it quickly came the Franciscans who were there since 1571, the Capuchins, Jesuits, and Discalced Carmelites. [267] The harvest was great and the newly arrived workers were very numerous and made a good harvest but their excessive zeal and mediocre preparation [268] left the Christians perplexed as they witnessed discord and quarrels among the missionaries. [269]

In 1629 all Europe knew that the Capuchins of Tourane had won over three archbishops of Aleppo to the Catholic faith, those of the Greeks, Armenians and Syrians. But soon it was learned that they returned to schism because of the Franciscan Fathers who were, according to the Capuchins, the origin of all evil. [270] The “Responsalis” of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to Aleppo, Doctor Louis Ramiro, had attracted the anger of the Franciscans because he condemned their less evangelical attitude toward the other missionaries of Aleppo and so informed the Congregation. This obliged the secretary Ingoli to prepare a defense of the zeal of this doctor and ratify it at the Congregation’s meeting 85 of December 17, 1627. [271] Peace was proclaimed at the beginning of 1629 [272] but new complaints were heard at the beginning of December 1629. [273] Various solutions regulating these differences were thought of but none bore lasting fruit. [274] It is sufficient to look at the attitude of these missionaries a century later in 1724, when there were two patriarchs of Antioch, one clearly “Roman” (Cyril Tanas) and the other clearly “Byzantine” (Sylvester of Cyprus). [275] But the most flagrant scandal was the interdiction that the Franciscans made against the Capuchins, prohibiting them to preach in the Maronite Churches; for this they invoked the authority of the Maronite patriarch. [276] Preaching in the Maronite Churches was the only means the Capuchins had to contact the other Christians of Aleppo and the Franciscans wanted to stop them. [277] The letter of Capuchin John Chrysostom of Angers to Cardinal Borgia on December 28, 1629 [278] gives us an idea of what took place in the capital of the missions in the 17th century. After relating that all the dissensions were due to the “hypocritical attitude” of the Franciscans who wanted to chase the Capuchins out of the East at any price, Fr. John Chrysostom proposes some solutions:

1) “As I have already written to the Sacred Congregation, what should be done to reduce the schismatics is to preach to the Maronites because the biggest problem of this country is ignorance; when ignorance is driven out, they will be converted. When we preach in a Christian church, whether Maronite, Greek, Armenian or Syrian, the other groups come to the sermon... and little by little we can infiltrate the salvific doctrine of the holy Church into their spirits.

2) “It is necessary to consider the fact that the Franciscans only lived in these regions for three years and in this brief time did not strain themselves to learn the Arabic language. The Maronites remain so ignorant that they know nothing about questions of the Holy Faith.

3) “The division provoked in this case begins as a small fire but could be amplified enough to make a new schism..., and some poor Maronites would say: we are less subjects of the pope than the patriarch... The Greeks confirm this in their sect by saying: where there is love there is God and He is not with them (the missionaries) since they do not have love among themselves... The Greek Archdeacon Michael said: Those who have posed such an obstacle cannot be Catholics or even Christians.” [279]

In 1627, the Carmelites already had a house in Aleppo for their fathers who were on route to Persia; [280] they were less ardent in their missionary zeal. They were in good relations with the other missionaries, especially the Jesuits, [281] and they began mainly to introduce western devotions to the Virgin Mary and visits to the Blessed Sacrament [282] without discussing problems of faith with the Christians of Aleppo. Those who worked more radically and very silently were the Jesuits.

After the foundation of the school in the home of the Greek Metropolitan Karmeh in January 1629, [283] the Jesuit Father Jerome Queyrot soon had thirty-four students; all were Greeks with the exception of one Maronite. [284] This school functioned for sixteen months, after which they had to leave there and establish another school which could accommodate the students of all the Christians of Aleppo. [285] This took place in 1633 and a Muslim property was used for the school. In his account of December 26, 1629, Queyrot explained “the reduction” of Greeks to “the obedience of the Holy Roman Church,” mainly because of the good dispositions of their Metropolitan Karmeh. Karmeh accepted the doctrine of the Fathers of the Church and proposed some cases of conscience to the Jesuit fathers for their opinion. [286] The Jesuits tried to explain the erroneous opinions about “communicatio in sacris,” the books on the index, and the authority of the pope over the east which was not recognized by these Easterners. [287]

With the foundation of the “interritual” school of 1633, the work of the Jesuits in Aleppo became more intense. This urged Father Queyrot to request a third father for this mission; he attempted to engage an Armenian professor so that he could finally establish a seminary in Aleppo. [288] Instruction of the young men would prepare the future generation for formal unions at a later time. [289] We cannot forget the activity of the College of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome which exercised its influence over the Maronite, Syrian and Armenian communities rather than over the Greeks of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Much later, even the Greeks of Antioch had their “native-born missionaries” instructed in Rome. [290]

It is important to note that Capuchins and Franciscans agreed about the identity of the Christians of Aleppo: if they were “outside of the Church,” it was only because of ignorance, materially not formally.

In November 1629, the Capuchin John Chrysostom of Angers said that many were Catholics without knowing they were “converted.” [291] In the words of the Guardian of Aleppo, Antoine de Veglia, in May 1634, many who communicated from the missionaries at Pascha were of the “Greek Nation” and yet were Catholics. [292]

In other regions of Syria where Capuchins and Franciscans were found, the situation became critical until the explosion. A typical example is the analysis of the situation in Saida. The British Capuchins had seized the chapel of the French consul and the Franciscans did not tolerate it. [293] In September 1627, Franciscan William Lombard of Avignon wrote that he had been chased out of the chapel of Saida by the Capuchin Egidius de Loches. On the door of the chapel Egidius had written: “those who want to gain indulgences (published beforehand) must confess himself to the Capuchin Fathers and none others.” [294] In October 1627, Father Egidius replied that he had never found enemies so “perfidious” than the Franciscans. Even the schismatics and the Muslims had witnessed that they never saw men so “impious.” [295] To this he added their quarrels on the subject of the Maronites. The Capuchins located some errors in the depraved rites of the Maronites and informed the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith about them; the Franciscans called these Capuchins “spies.” [296] The Jesuits as well were poorly viewed by the Maronite Patriarch Jean Makhlouf (1609-1634) because they had spread, even in writing, that the “Maronite nation was heretical.” [297]

From this account we see that the progress of the missions in Syria outside of Aleppo remained very limited until the definite departure of Fr. Queyrot in 1643 to Damascus. There, as in Saida, some Greek prelates inclined to union would be found. [298]

The Patriarchate of Antioch Under Euthymios III, Originally from Chios (1635 – 1647)
1)A Timid Patriarch

Sensing that his death was near, in December 1634, Euthymios II Karmeh designated his successor in the person of Meletios of Chios who had been a hieromonk of Saint Sabas of Jerusalem and an iconographer. [299] The chirotonia of the new patriarch of Antioch took place soon after the death of Karmeh (January 1, 1635). [300]It was Patriarch Euthymios III [301] who received Protosyncellos Pachomios when he returned from Rome after accomplishing the mission Euthymios II Karmeh had confided to him. [302] But the new patriarch did not have the courage of his predecessor to see through what Karmeh had begun. [303] The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith learned about the death of Karmeh in September 1635 [304] and wanted to continue its relations with the Greek Patriarchate of Antioch and its new patriarch through the intermediary of Pachomios. The Congregation’s meeting 219 of August 4, 1638, held in the presence of the pope, decided to “write again to Father Pachomios, in order to process a union with the new patriarch, to be made according to the profession of faith that he had brought for Patriarch Euthymios (Karmeh). He should solicit the response of learned men on the subject of the Arabic Pentateuch and he was informed that part of the Arabic Euchologion had already been translated into Latin and that now the cardinals and theologians would diligently correct the Greek Euchologion so that it could be printed in Greek and in Arabic.” [305] This exhortation of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith received no written response from the new patriarch. [306]

Despite this, in 1636, the two nephews of Euthymios III of Chios were students of the Jesuit Fathers in Aleppo [307] as well as other Greek boys who learned Greek in the school of Fr. Queyrot. [308] The Jesuits proposed opening a seminary in Aleppo [309] while the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith intended to assure the instruction of the young boys in Rome itself. Soon afterwards, the Cardinal of St. Honophrius established scholarships in Rome in the College of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith; there were twelve students: two each from the Georgians, Nestorians, Jacobites, Copts, Melkites and Persians (?). [310] Jesuit Jerome Queyrot and the Franciscan Antonio de l'Aquila were charged to recruit these students mainly from Aleppo and to send them to Rome. This was not very easy. [311] Patriarch Euthymios III promised to send his two nephews to Rome, [312] following the example of Patriarch Metrophanes of Alexandria. On May 25, 1637, this patriarch of Alexandria had requested two places in the Greek College for two young Greek boys whom he wanted to send immediately. [313] But Euthymios III was well aware what had happened to his predecessor and what would take place in Constantinople at this time; [314] in no way could he submit to the desires of Rome. [315] The letters of the Franciscan Antonio de l' Aquila are very significant on this subject. On November 10, 1639, this missionary in Aleppo wrote to the secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith with bitterness: “I have not failed to execute what your most illustrious eminences asked of me in the letters of December 4 of last year (1638) and of July 16 (1639)... I am still very surprised about the patriarchs of the Melkites and Jacobites. The one of the Melkites who resides in Damascus immediately received and greatly welcomed the opinion of the Sacred Congregation with the brief. He said that he wanted to send his two nephews to the new college but lately he responded that he feared the tyranny of the Turks if he sent the young men of his nation to a Christian country. Despite all this, since there are still some in Aleppo who want to leave with the permission of their parents. The patriarch would give them permission, provided that their archbishop (Meletios Zaim), who appears somewhat inclined to this holy project, would write to him about this matter. The Jacobite patriarch who resides in Mardin has not responded... At present we have one Melkite and one Jacobite who wish to go and their parents are also agreeable. The Jesuit fathers advise me to send them without waiting for another permission from their prelates which will never arrive.” [316]

On May 1, 1640 the same Franciscan missionary wrote another letter from Aleppo: “Conforming to the new notice of September 17 (1639) that your eminences sent me, [317] I have continued to do everything possible to solicit the two patriarchs of the Jacobites and Melkites for students for the College of the Cardinal of St. Honophrius. But in fact we see ingratitude and the bad reply of these patriarchs, who, since last year received the letters of the Sacred Congregation with the briefs. They have yet to take charge of finding some students, nor have they responded. Their excuse is the fear of their enemies who will inform the Turks that they have relations with the Christians of Europe. I myself have found some students but their parents are not willing to entrust them unless one religious conducts them to Rome.” [318] In a third letter of April 19, 1640, Antonio de l'Aquila added: “according to the general opinion of the Capuchins, Jesuits and other missionary fathers, recruitment of students by the intermediary of the patriarchs will never come to completion, since the facts are already very visible. However, I will very diligently find them in another way.” [319] In spite of all the difficulties, on December 24, 1640, the Franciscan missionaries landed at Livourne with six boys; [320] among them was the young Greek-Melkite Aleppian, Peter Dib. [321]

Meanwhile, Patriarch Euthymios III visited the Eparchy of Aleppo where he remained from August 7 until November 22, 1640. [322] He returned to Damascus with one of his nephews [323] and Jesuit Father Jerome Queyrot; [324] there this Jesuit father began to teach Greek to the Greek-Melkite boys. [325] Soon the patriarch was abandoned by Queyrot, since he had no power against the harshness of the Hellenes in Damascus. [326] However, he remained in contact with the Latin missionaries whom the secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Francesco Ingoli, exhorted to meet with this patriarch. [327] Ingoli himself really wanted these transactions with the Greek-Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, and wrote about the indecisiveness of the Guardian of Jerusalem: “The Maronite priests in Damascus are not capable of teaching their Maronite (faithful) the way of salvation and literature and even less capable of dealing with the patriarch (Euthymios III).It is ‘simpliciter’ necessary to send there two fathers. One of them should know the Arabic language to be able to frequently deal with this patriarch, whose predecessor, Matran Karmeh, finally accepted to be a Catholic and died as a Catholic. If this prelate could be reached, there would be fruit on the part of his students. If one of the students learned the Italian and Latin languages it would not be difficult to have other students who would do the same. Father Sansverini would be the best person to send to Damascus to this patriarch. He should bring (letters) of his mission so that he could deal with this prelate with the authority of this Holy See (of Rome) and its spirit. May Your Paternity order this mentioned father to go and write for (obtain his letters of) his mission with one or two companions for all of Syria and I will send the missionaries to these Christians. Give the order that, above all, courses in Italian and Latin languages be given in each procuracy (of the missionaries) so that they may teach the young men Christian doctrine and piety. In this way in time there will be great progress.” [328]

An interesting account of the Capuchin Father Michel de Rennes gives us an idea how the Latin missionaries dealt with Euthymios III around the year 1640. After long discussions with a Greek bishop of Nazareth visiting Damascus, [329] de Rennes had an interview with the Patriarch of Antioch. The patriarch explained what he thought about the primacy of the Apostolic See of Antioch, [330] and according to Michel de Rennes ended by saying: “I confess and I know that the Roman pontiff is the head of the Catholic Church, and I hold all his beliefs as true; and, if I did not fear the other Greeks, I would myself extol before all, that I am subject of the aforesaid Roman Church, but ten thousand écus would not be sufficient to pay the evils which Constantinople would give out.” [331] Euthymios III promised that he would write to the pope of Rome to show that he held the same belief of his predecessor Euthymios II Karmeh, but he did nothing. [332] He wanted to consecrate one of the missionaries of Damascus a bishop [333] and asked Fr. Michel de Rennes to send him the writings of the Greek Fathers, promising to pay him for them. [334]

Even if Euthymios III never wrote on the subject of his philo-Roman sentiments, he nevertheless put them in concrete form by his relations with the missionaries. Despite his first failure to keep Father Queyrot in Damascus, [335] he did not hesitate to make him come in the beginning of 1643, “for the instruction of the young (Greeks), namely his nephew, and for the composition of his circular letters and his Greek and Arabic trading licenses.” [336] In view of the Turkish exactions which obliged the patriarch to go make collections in the dioceses of his patriarchate [337] and in view of the “secret persecutions which were jealously excited against a Frank religious who was employed in the most important affairs of the patriarchate,” [338] Fr. Queyrot remained in Damascus for some time, and left only after the return of Euthymios III to his residence in the summer of 1644. [339]

This Orthodox patriarch stayed away from all those came into the Orthodox world in his time [340] and never officially dared to declare his union with Rome. [341] He finally succumbed to a grave illness in September 1647 and died on the following October 11, leaving the patriarchate to the Metropolitan of Aleppo, Meletios Zaim. [342]

2) Beginning of a Roman Crusade in the Patriarchate of Antioch

The missionaries were well established in the large city of Aleppo but could not shine forth in the other cities of the Patriarchate of Antioch. It was the Capuchins and Jesuits, who little by little, founded residences in Damascus, Saida and Tripoli [343] where they had direct relations especially with the Greek prelates and with their faithful. [344]

During the patriarchal reign of Euthymios III of Chios (1635-1647) the missionaries continued to gain the sympathy of the Christian people in Aleppo and even made some individual conversions. [345] Their missionary work was directed mainly toward the Christians rather than the Muslims or Jews of Aleppo. [346] On one side, they had some theological discussions with the local educated clergy who were little prepared for the speculation of the Franks. [347] On the other side they instructed the people, mainly the young boys, in their schools. [348] Their influence became so great that the Christian people of Aleppo began to leave their legitimate pastors and joined the missionaries. [349] The Maronite patriarch himself had to intervene with his synod to keep the unity of his faithful in Aleppo who were “divided in four parties,” one group with the Capuchin Fathers, the second with the Carmelite Fathers, the third with the Jesuit Fathers and the rest of the people with the Maronite priests. [350] This radical intervention of a Catholic prelate against the equally Catholic missionaries alarmed those who risked disappearing and also alarmed those whom they had won over from the other non-Catholic Christians. [351]

In order not to lose ground in the large missionary city of the Near East, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith quickly named a Latin bishop of Aleppo “for the Latin merchants who lived there and who passed through there.” [352] This nomination of a Latin bishop in Aleppo in 1645, which had a precedent in 1638 in Baghdad, [353] took the missionaries away from the growing jurisdiction of the archbishop of Goa, [354] and assisted in the creation of autonomous Latin missionaries for the conversion of their nations. [355] This did not pass unnoticed by the Maronites who were also Catholic and who had their own hierarchy there: the same diocesan territory could not have two equally Catholic jurisdictions! [356] But the spirit of the crusaders and the prevalence of the Latin Church over the Eastern Churches awakened once again the idea about having a resident Latin patriarch in Jerusalem on whom all the Latins of the Near East would depend. [357]

Before the nomination of a residential Latin bishop in Aleppo, the Jesuits had already considered establishing a seminary. [358] But the uncertainty, in which the Christian schools in the Ottoman empire lived, obliged the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to establish a college in Rome for the Orthodox or non-Chalcedonian Easterners of the Near East. [359] The preoccupation of the missionaries was to prepare candidates to go to Rome, [360] but the result was not always fortunate for the Greek-Melkites of the Patriarchate of Antioch. [361] Before the difficulty of transferring these young men into Europe, the missionaries themselves were transferred.

The Jesuits provisionally established their first school in Damascus in 1641 and then definitively in 1643. [362] The nephew of Euthymios III who later became Patriarch of Antioch in 1672, [363] was formed there as well as hundreds of Greeks who presided over the destinies of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. [364] In 1637, the British Capuchins established a residence in Damascus near the school of the Jesuits in order to have direct contact with the resident patriarch and any visiting Greek prelates. [365]

Little by little the Jesuits installed themselves in Saida near the Franciscans and British Capuchins; several years later the Capuchins established a school there. [366] The Capuchins established themselves in Tripoli in 1634 and before them the Franciscans; several years later the Carmelites and Jesuits arrived. [367] In all these Syrian cities the missionaries were very successful despite the discord and jealousy which existed among them from time to time. [368] Michael de Rennes bragged that he had been able to confuse a Greek bishop of Damascus by converting the patriarch of the Greeks himself. [369] From Tripoli on March 6, 1641, Brice of Rennes wrote: “regarding what we do for the Greeks, most of them believe in the Roman Catholic Church and recognize His Holiness (the pope) as its pastor and true successor of Saint Peter. I myself have often preached in their church, [370] and they listened to me and respected my words as if they were Roman Catholics. We preached on the procession of the Holy Spirit and demonstrated that he proceeds from the Father and the Son, as one single principle; everyone believed my words and not one of them said anything against me. Every time we discussed with them the preeminence of the great pontiff, the pope, they remained confused and did not know how to respond; convinced, they recognized him as vicar of Christ and true successor of Saint Peter. [371]

In view of these satisfying results, the British Capuchins could not tolerate the superficial presence of other missionaries who came after them to harvest what they had sowed!. [372] They wanted a new crusade of the Christian princes of Europe to crown their spiritual crusade with a temporal one. [373]

The Patriarchate of Antioch on the Way to Catholization under Macarios III Zaim (1647-1672)
1) The “Zaim,” Macarios III of Aleppo

Following the example of Euthymios II Karmeh who designated his successor before his death, Euthymios III of Chios, while he was dying in Damascus from May to September1647, also chose his successor: Meletios Zaim, Metropolitan of Aleppo. [374]

According to the account of Father Queyrot, Meletios Zaim was a weaver before becoming metropolitan of Aleppo. [375] He was a married priest who lost his wife around 1627, the same year in which his famous son, Paul was born. Paul became archdeacon of the patriarchate and biographer of his father. [376] Before becoming patriarch, Metropolitan Karmeh promoted Zaim to sacred orders; Zaim had been a disciple of Karmeh. [377] On October 27, 1635, Euthymios III of Chios consecrated Zaim Metropolitan of Aleppo in Damascus and also made him catholicos, “supervisor,” of the whole patriarchate and exarch for the region of Diarbaker and Antioch where he had permission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. [378]

During his episcopate which lasted twelve years, the city of Aleppo witnessed the blossoming of its Christians and the breathtaking activity of the Latin missionaries. Father Queyrot was so enthusiastic that he proposed to open a seminary in Aleppo. [379] The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith counted so much on the mission of Aleppo that it appointed a Latin bishop there in 1645 after the one in Baghdad in 1638. [380] The Greek Eparchy of Aleppo was so rich that Patriarch Euthymios III of Chios went there twice to collect the necessary money to pay to the insatiable Ottomans. [381] Under the episcopate of Meletios Zaim a great number of his faithful made a pilgrimage to the holy places of Jerusalem; there Patriarch Theophanes hastened to receive them with “all attention and all honor.” [382] In Jerusalem, the metropolitan of Aleppo met the catholicos, Maximos of Georgia who accompanied him to Damascus and Aleppo in May 1642. [383] Zaim was on such good terms with his patriarch that the patriarch ordered him to celebrate the Divine Liturgy pontifically and to preach in his place in the Cathedral of Damascus. [384]

In September 1647, Meletios Zaim left Aleppo to hide at Killiz [385] "because of the prejudice of the governor (of Aleppo), Qara Hassan Pasha, who committed numerous injustices.” [386] A messenger from the Damascenes went to Killiz to ask the metropolitan of Aleppo to come to Damascus because the dying patriarch and the clergy of Damascus wanted him as successor, but the metropolitan declined the invitation, “especially when he knew the gravity of the illness which had affected the patriarch.” [387] In view of the displeasure of the patriarch and the arrival of a second messenger, Meletios “sent a response that he would arrive without delay.” He then headed for Damascus “despite himself” in the company of his son, Paul. [388] On the way he learned that the patriarch had died on October 11, 1647. Meletios was consecrated the new patriarch on November 12, 1647 by four metropolitans of the Patriarchate of Antioch who came to Damascus for this purpose. [389]

2) Macarios III and the Orthodox World (1647 - 1660)

Macarios III spent the time immediately after his elevation to the patriarchate raising the finances of his church which was weighed down with debts since 1644 under Euthymios III of Chios. [390] He convoked a synod in Damascus to examine the financial situation and it was certified that the patriarchate was in debt 6000 piastres, [391] without counting the new expenses “to obtain the firman of the pasha in the name of the new patriarch according to custom, plus that which had been spent to make this a legal act with the consent of all.” [392] Recognizing this situation, the patriarch had only to extend his hand to generous Christian countries. He made two trips to the Orthodox world, from 1652 to 1659, and 1664 to 1669 to collect funds.

Before leaving on his first trip, he carefully provided all the eparchies with bishops who were worthy of their function as pastors of souls. He even designated an exarch in Georgia, who returned three years later to inform his patriarch about the situation there. [393] In June 1650 he had to deal with some Greeks of Gaza who came to him complaining against the exaggeration of some taxation on the part of the Ottomans. They had declared themselves at the point of passing to Islam, following the example of other confreres, who found it impossible to pay the kharage, and who renounced their Christian faith. [394]

On January 6,1651, Macarios III consecrated a catholicos whom he designated several months later as vicar general of the patriarchate during his absence. [395] Then he left Damascus on February 11, 1652 after consulting the clergy and people of Damascus. [396] He traveled north, at the invitation of the Voivode Basil Lupa, Prince of Moldavia.

He arrived in Constantinople on October 20, 1652 and remained there until January 10, 1653. [397] There he concelebrated with Patriarch Paisios [398] and participated in the local synod which was held against the deposed Patriarch Joannikios II. [399] Macarios III of Antioch also hurled the anathema against the unworthy patriarch of Constantinople who poisoned the metropolitan of Corinth and usurped four episcopal sees before claiming the patriarchate. Macarios signed this anathema in the acts of the synod. [400]

Macarios III continued his voyage passing through Constantsa, Galatz and Jassy where he went to the Monastery of Saint Sabas and had an interview with Voivode Basil Lupu. [401] On November 29, 1653 he was in Targoviste where he was very well received by Prince Matthew Bassarab and Metropolitan Ignatios. There he celebrated the feast of Pascha in 1654 and left the following June for Kiev. His entrance to Moscow took place on January 26, 1655. [402] He was received by Tsar Alexis and paid a visit to Patriarch Nikon who quickly invited him to celebrate a Liturgy with the Serbian archbishop also visiting Moscow. On September 1, 1655 he celebrated the feast of Saint Simeon the Stylite of Aleppo in Novgorod and returned to Moscow where he concelebrated again with Nikon on Christmas Day. [403] During his sojourn in Moscow a synod for liturgical reforms took place. It was undertaken by Nikon, and Macarios of Antioch had a large part mainly because he brought with him the new recension of the Euchologion made by Karmeh and other liturgical books of the Patriarchate of Antioch. [404] From April 1656 the patriarch of Antioch had assumed the role of arbiter between the Patriarch Nikon of Moscow and Tsar Alexis, at the express invitation of the Tsar. [405] When everything quickly returned to normal, Macarios concelebrated several times with Nikon. He participated again in a synod in which the question of the baptism of Polish people was discussed. Macarios wrote a small treatise on this subject in Arabic proving that the baptism of the Polish people was valid according to the canons of the Orthodox Church. The Russian version of this treatise was approved by Nikon and his synod. There had been an imperial law, which “prohibited rebaptism of Polish Latins or Frank partisans of the pope because they were the closest to us among all the sects.” [406] Macarios left Moscow on May 29, 1656 and passed again through Kiev, Jassy, Targoviste, Bucharest, Galatz and Aleppo. He arrived in Damascus on July 1, 1659. [407] There he paid five thousand piastres toward the debt and offered three thousand piastres to the pasha and notables of Damascus. [408] Soon he convoked a synod of seven metropolitans to condemn the abuse of Athanasios Ibn Amish, Metropolitan of Homs, who, during the absence of the patriarch, took upon himself the prerogatives of the patriarch. The synod deposed this metropolitan and reduced him to the lay state. [409] In 1660 Macarios devoted himself to the preparation of the Myron necessary for his patriarchate because the last patriarch who had made it was Joachim Ibn Ziadeh in 1594. [410] On May 7, 1661 he was in Aleppo, his city of birth, where he began openly to approach the Latin missionaries and the French consul. During his episcopate (1635-1647) he remained very reserved toward the missionaries and their projects, [411] even though he voluntarily accepted the services of the Jesuit Fathers who looked after him when he was sick in Aleppo. He did not forget their care when he became patriarch in 1647. Jesuit Father Amieu wrote in his account for the year 1650: “he had visited Seyde (Saida) and saw me as good oil, and had clearly preached that it was necessary to love the Catholics and not to flee them: this was a great change for the Greeks of Seyde. He also came to Tripoli where I was, and I heard him in his church; and if he became more knowledgeable, he also had better sentiments. Very often he visited our Fathers in Damascus, who supported him in his good wishes, and because of this the fathers are better accepted by the Greeks.” [412]

3) Macarios III and his Ecumenical Mission (1661-1672)

Some months after the martyrdom of David, a Greek Aleppian, Patriarch Macarios III arrived in Aleppo to relieve his faithful in their distress. [413] In view of the tireless charity of the missionaries during the months of the 1661 famine, he publicly praised the Roman Church and “invited the consul (Picquet) and the missionaries to his church to listen to the Liturgy and allow his people to see that the Franks were in the true path of salvation, as he noted in the sermon which he preached in Arabic.” [414] He also sent a letter (dated September 30, 1661) to Consul Picquet and asked him to personally give it to Pope Alexander VII. The letter was sent with Arabic manuscripts of the Euchologion and Horologion so that they could be printed at the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith printing press. [415] The consul was in Rome before May 22, 1662. On that date the contents of this letter were communicated to the general assembly of the cardinals of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith: “The patriarch of the Greeks of Antioch expressed a great desire of (coming) to see His Holiness the pope, but since distance did not permit him, he prays that God bring to a good conclusion his belief on the subject of the union of the Holy Church, wishing that it would be easy with the help of God and the Holy Virgin, although it seems to be difficult (to realize). He also asks His Holiness to pray for the poor Christians who are reduced at the present time to extreme misery. He compares the flourishing situation of the ancient Church of the East to its actual very disastrous state and attributes this great change to the fact of being separated from the Roman Church. Now he has the resolve to finding all the ways for reunion because this separation had not been caused by any heresy, but by haughtiness. It is true that it is necessary to proceed secretly in order to avoid many disturbances. For these reasons he says that Mr. Picquet will expose his designs to His Holiness. He praises the rare virtues (of this consul), particularly his piety toward the poor, his zeal and his efforts for the conversion of heretics, and he declares that if this virtuous man was left there (in Near East), he would arrange the union of the nations to perfection.”

He adds that Patriarch Euthymios [416] “had already requested from Urban VIII to print some (translated) books necessary for religion in the Greek and Arabic languages, [417] since the pope had ordered them to be printed. But this patriarch had died [418] before this was done. (The present patriarch) renewed the request and selected two from among the ten books which the latter had asked for, [419] the Euchologion and Horologion.

“He explained the misery in which these people were living under the tyranny of the local governors because it was very difficult to appeal to the sultan who was very far away. If this tyranny lasted ten years, all the Christians of this country would be exterminated. For this reason, if His Holiness was willing to persuade the King of France to send Mr. Francois Picquet as his ambassador to Constantinople, it would be the only remedy for this evil. The Christians, besides, would be very disposed to the obedience and love of His Holiness if they saw that he cared for them. In the meantime, they waited to be consoled by a letter of blessing.” [420]

Picquet had spoken with the secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Mario Alberici, suggesting to him that it was sufficient at that time to have the two requested books printed and to respond to Patriarch Macarios, observing how he would behave before conceding another favor to him. [421] The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith decided to print the Euchologion and Horologion after they were corrected, to ask the pope to respond to the patriarch, and to write to the Discalced Carmelites of Aleppo “so that, if the patriarch had made the profession of Catholic faith, they should transmit it to Rome in order that it be kept in the registers of the Congregation.” [422]

Macarios was sure that the two books requested would be printed immediately. To the preface of the two manuscripts he added that he sent this significant note with Picquet: “this book was printed in the city of Rome, at the time of the excellent in holiness, Macarios, Patriarch of Antioch, by the care and costs of our master, Pope Alexander VII, full of virtue. May God keep His Excellency in the favor of men and may he elevate the edifice of his virtues and his favors, for all in general and each in particular. May God reward his favors with a magnificent prize and an eminent position in this life and in the next. In the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ 1662.” [423]

The Congregation’s meeting of July 7, 1662 examined again the question of the Euchologion and the Horologion and found that it was presently difficult to reconstitute the commission for the Euchologion. [424] Five days later, Pope Alexander VII responded to Patriarch Macarios with the reassurance that the two requested books would be examined and printed as soon as possible. From this letter we could guess the oral message that Macarios had confided to Consul Picquet when he gave him the letter to take to the pope: “From everything in the letter of Your Fraternity of September 30 of last year, and the oral message of our dear son Francois Picquet, we have understood that you not only firmly follow the truth of the Orthodox faith and recognize the Roman Church as head and master of all the other Churches, but that you also display that you will do everything possible, with the blessing of the Lord, to bring back all the Churches and people who are your subjects into the unity and to communion with this Apostolic See; this we have apprised as certain with great joy...” [425]

Meanwhile the enthroning of the first Syrian Catholic Patriarch, Andre Akhi-John was being prepared in Aleppo. [426] On August 20, 1662, after receiving the order of the pasha, Patriarch Macarios went to assist in the enthroning ceremonies in the Jacobite Church in Aleppo. [427] Six days later, French Consul Baron gave a banquet honoring the new Catholic Patriarch and invited Macarios with the Armenian Patriarch Khachadour. On this occasion Patriarch Macarios “drank to the health of His Holiness the pope by pronouncing words with very Catholic sentiments; the other two patriarchs as well as their clergy approved by standing with heads uncovered.” [428] Rome learned about this in February 1663. In view of the enthusiasm and optimism of the consul and the missionaries in Aleppo, [429] the secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Mario Alberici, informed the pope and the cardinals about the ill-fated consequences of installing Catholic prelates by paying money to Turkish authorities: this could bring more sorrow than good to the Catholic faith. [430] The missionaries were alerted to the views of the secretary when he responded to their request to confirm the new Syro-Maronite Patriarch. [431]

Carmelite Father Jerome of St. Therese went to Rome to obtain this confirmation and asked the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith for a chalice for Patriarch Macarios and one for the Armenian Patriarch Khachadour. [432] He informed the Roman authorities that these patriarchs were disposed to send two bishops to Rome to “render obedience” to the pope. [433] On April 2, 1663 the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith responded to the desire of the Carmelite and ordered that the requested chalices be sent; they approved the idea that the Carmelites would send him the two bishops. [434] However, the promised bishops were never sent. [435]

Patriarch Macarios thought so much of the missionaries in Aleppo that he defended them against the Maronite Patriarch, George Bseb'eli (1657-1670) who had prohibited his faithful from receiving the sacraments from these missionaries. They were also not allowed to enter the Maronite Church in Aleppo. [436] The Syrian and Armenian patriarchs followed the example of the Greek patriarch. [437] The Greek patriarch was surprised by the unjustifiable measures of the Maronite Catholic Patriarch and wrote to him: “Since you have been one with the Franks for a long time, may Your Paternity with your faithful, follow the Franks in their feasts; since the aforesaid Frankish monks have always had ‘open eyes’ to assist and do good to Maronites especially in Aleppo. I can truly say that all the other nations respect yours because the Frankish monks are considered by all these nations as disciples of Jesus Christ — since Your Paternity, I say, forms a single entity with them, how is it possible that you have believed (some) ignorant words, and that you have separated yourself from them and that you now are the cause of trouble among the Christians of Aleppo...!” [438] Macarios recognized the solidarity of all the Christians of his patriarchate, despite the diversity of the denominations. Even Calvinists in the East formed a single block with the other Christians in the event of calamity or deliberate slights, while in Europe the events were different at this time. [439] The missionaries manifested their gratitude toward the Greek patriarch by asking the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith again for the printing of the Euchologion. [440]

These good relations between Macarios and the missionaries of the Roman Church had been so successful in mutual understanding that on December 14, 1663, Macarios wrote a letter to the Roman Congregation of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith which was thought to be more cordial than ecumenical: [441]

“Glory to God always. Macarios, by the mercy of most High God, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, to the Sacred Congregation excellent in virtue. ‘Salaam’ of our Master and God, our Lord Jesus Christ who took on Himself the salvation of our souls, and the grace of his Holy Spirit, conferred upon his holy disciples, the most pure apostles in the holy cenacle. May this divine peace and this very blessing descend always [442] on the souls and bodies of the spiritual brothers and fathers, the most reverend cardinals, heads of priests, accredited by God and authorities of the Holy Congregation in the city of Rome, mother of the Holy Cities. May the Lord God bless them and their actions by the most perfect celestial blessings, protect them, guard them by his strong arm and preserve them [443] from all evil and heavenly or earthly calamities. May God grant all that we supplicate for these dear (persons) in our evening and daytime prayers and in the Divine Liturgies, through the intercession of our pure Lady and ever Virgin Mary, of the great Apostle, St. Peter, Coryphaeus of the Apostles, [444] and all the saints. Amen.

“Besides this, we bring to the knowledge of Your Kindness and Holiness, first our great desire of seeing you. Then, if you deign, to inform you on the subject of our humble person, thank God and thanks to your prayers we bring you ourselves in good health. Lastly, we inform you that we received your letter which merits respect and honor, [445] and we rejoiced greatly in it. Thanks to the translation of the brothers, Father Sylvester the Capuchin [446] and Father John the Carmelite, [447] we have understood its content, rendering thanks to the most High Creator for your good health, and we thank Your Kindness, who wishes to console us by this letter which is a great joy to us. In it you mention that you were apprised from the mouth of Consul Picquet [448] of our great love for the Apostolic See, our application and all our intentions for the holy union: union of the Eastern Church to the Roman Church. [449] Yes, we maintain our word and this profession until the last breath of our life, why not! [450]

“You have perhaps learned about our great love for your disciples, the brothers, the Capuchins and Carmelites, their continual frequenting of our church and their visits in the homes of our Greek faithful, to whom they preach and teach. We are pleased with all this and we have been waiting for it for a long time. [451]

"Yes, we ask our Lord Jesus Christ, source of every good thing and of all holiness, to destroy the wall, [452] the barrier of enmity erected between us and you by the (diabolic) enemy of all good. In fact, since this separation, [453] the affairs of the Christians of the Eastern Church have declined to dispersion and to destruction. This is what we admit and confess. This is what we always preach and instruct our flock.

“You have observed that the Roman Church is mother of all the faithful, that it loves the children of the Greeks for whom it has built a college [454] and that it loves the Christians of the East for whom it always cared for by sending priests to enlighten them and instruct them. We understand that, my brothers. For this reason we implore our Creator and our Lord Jesus Christ, head of the Holy Church, that He strengthen the Roman Church, elevate its grandeur, consolidate it for the end of ages and guard our master and our father, the honored pope, its head and our head over all, [455] wishing that you be always preserved from all evil. Amen

“Brothers, we have asked you not to forget us in your prayers, because we have many concerns and pain each day, especially because of debts, their interest and continual humiliations. This is why we have neither tranquility nor stability, and we are anxious and sad. Since the Apostolic Roman Church, solid and rich, gave innumerable alms, we ask it to think of us in its continuous benefits. In fact, since children always have the habit of asking for nourishment from their mother, we also ask our mother to think of us in her mercy, as it is said in the holy law: it is the duty of the rich church to aid the poor church. We do not have the right to submit this to Your Fraternity, but necessity and love have obliged us to address ourselves to you without any obstacle.

“As for Mr. Consul Baron [456] who is in Aleppo, we thank you for his generosity because he has been very useful to us, and he continues to assist us by his benefits, especially in the difficult times. May our Lord Jesus Christ repay him in his heavenly kingdom after many and happy days for his efforts and generosity toward us. We thank you also for the beautiful chalice which we received. [457] May God guard you and multiply your goodness. We wish that you continue your benevolence towards us by pursuing the printing of the Arabic books [458] and sending them to us, because they are a great good and always a memorable gift for these poor priests.

“We have ended the present address to Your Kindness. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with you. Amen. Amen. Amen. With our wishes.

“Written December 14, one thousand six hundred sixty-three A.D. in the God-protected city, Aleppo.” [459]

This letter had remained in Aleppo at least until the month of April 1664 [460] so that it could probably be sent with a formulary of profession of faith signed by Macarios himself. [461] On January 19, 1665, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith learned about the philo-Roman sentiments of this Orthodox patriarch and was content to note: “Monsignor Macarios, Patriarch of the Greeks in Aleppo, wrote, having made his profession of faith and sent a copy of it. He relates the difficulties in which he is found with the Greeks because of taxes and some charges which must be paid and he asks to be helped. He praised the piety of Consul Baron who helped him by some benefits and finally was thankful for the chalice sent by the Sacred Congregation.” [462] The complete profession of faith of Macarios was sent to the Holy Office. [463] Those in charge of this Congregation did not react in any way to this profession of faith of Macarios, while the same formulary signed by the Armenian Patriarch Khachadour in 1664 aroused their review; this obliged the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to ask Khachdour for a new profession of faith, the one reserved to Eastern bishops. [464]

Meanwhile, Macarios went to Moscow with Patriarch Paisios of Alexandria at the invitation of Tsar Alexis to depose the dauntless Patriarch Nikon in 1667. [465] In 1665 and 1669 he passed through Georgia where the Orthodox hierarchy recognized a certain patriarchal jurisdiction in him. [466] In Moscow he tried to ask the King of Poland, John Casimir, to be the intermediary between the Roman Church and the Eastern Church in view of union, [467] while the first Greek edition of the Orthodox Confession was prepared at Amsterdam with the signature of four Eastern patriarchs. [468]

On his return to Syria, Macarios continued his good relations with the Latin missionaries without making any public act of union with the Roman Church. [469] At the request of the French Ambassador, De Nointel and the insistence of the anti-Calvinists, on several occasions he signed some documents manifesting the Orthodox faith in order to corroborate the proofs of the perpetuity of the Catholic faith. [470]

Neither Macarios nor his delegates were at the Synod of Jerusalem on March 20, 1672. [471] On June 12 of the same year, the great Patriarch of Antioch died in Damascus, truly poisoned like his teacher Euthymios II Karmeh. [472] From then on, the students of the missionaries began to occupy the patriarchal throne of Antioch, finally allowing a student of the College of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to take the throne in 1724. This date inaugurated the split of the Patriarchate of Antioch into two branches. [473]

4) The Greeks of Antioch on the way to Catholicization under Macarios.

A year before his death, Francesco Ingoli, the first secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, delivered to the cardinals of this congregation the fruit of his long experiences on the conversion of some Christians of the East. He believed it was necessary to instruct the young men by opening schools, especially in the large cities of Aleppo, Diarbaker and Aspahan, for through them a new generation could be prepared. [474] The views of Ingoli had the greatest success that the history of the missionaries had known. In 1660, Jesuit Father Besson related: “Father Queyrot left several heirs of his virtue, among whom are one thousand excellent students, who brought the Catholic religion to blossom in the midst of schism, and notably changed the face of these Churches.” [475] Henceforth, the missionaries could count on the young Greeks who were formed by them in the large cities of Syria: Aleppo, Damascus, Saida and Tripoli. [476] This was not enough: it was necessary to convert the older and more influential people so that they would not have the time to destroy what the missionaries had built. All the more, the missionary activity in the east was now being defamed in the west and the appearance of Holy Syria by Fr. Besson in 1660 was necessary to calm the spirits. [477]

Individual conversions of the Greeks in Aleppo were very rare until 1651, because the people feared the excommunication of the bishop and the accusation to the Turks. [478] In 1653, French Consul Picquet arrived in Aleppo. Until 1661 he favored the Latins, Maronites and new converts to Catholicism among the Jacobites and Armenians. [479] Among the Greeks there were only sympathizers who assisted from time to time in some dogmatic discussions and agreed with the Latin missionaries. [480] In 1660 and 1661, the general distress and the martyrdom of the Greek David brought the Greeks and Latin missionaries together. [481] The presence of Patriarch Macarios in the Church of the Jacobites at the enthroning of the Catholic Patriarch, Andre Akhi-John, had a great effect on the Greek clergy and faithful present. [482] These clergy and people received the missionaries into their homes and often saw them present in their churches. [483] The letters of Macarios, sent from Aleppo to the pope and King of France, [484] did not have a great effect in Aleppo, since all was done secretly in agreement with the missionaries. [485] Several times they asked the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to print the Euchologion and Horologion sent to Rome by Macarios in order to be a good sign to the clergy of Aleppo, but their requests were doomed to failure. [486] In 1664 they began to lose a little prestige with the Roman Church in view of the ordination of a bigamous Maronite, since the Maronites were considered of the Roman Rite. [487] It was in 1674 that a Greek Aleppian archpriest make his profession of Catholic faith. [488]

In Damascus, Greeks and Jesuits understood each other very well despite the intrigues which they made from time to time against openly philo-Roman prelates. Patriarch Macarios and his vicar, Archbishop Gerasimos, encouraged the young Greeks to profit from the teachings given by the missionaries. [489] It was with the missionaries in Damascus that the young Saifi, who would be the future bishop of Saida, was formed [490] as well as the nephew of Euthymios III of Chios, who immediately succeeded Macarios in 1672. [491] The murder of a Greek by the Turks in Damascus in 1671, only provisionally hid the philo-Roman sentiments of the Damascenes. Soon a large number of them were clearly won over to the Roman Church. [492]

After the visit of Macarios to Saida in 1648, [493] the Jesuits soon won over Metropolitan Jeremiah who allowed them to preach in his church. [494] But the quarrels between the Capuchins and Franciscans continued [495] and this retarded the progress of the other missionaries. However, a philo-Roman nucleus was slowly formed and spread to Beirut where some Greeks were called Catholics since the end of 1659. [496]

The Capuchins and some Franciscans quarreled in Tripoli [497] where the Greek majority had very little relations with the missionaries. The missionaries then turned themselves more toward the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. [498] Yet people soon got used to the teaching of the missionaries and a nucleus formed in the monastery of Balamand. The first Greek monks who worked for the union of the Patriarchate of Antioch with Rome came from this monastery. [499]

Beside the pastoral activity of the missionaries in the Patriarchate of Antioch and the constant efforts of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to implant a Latin hierarchy there, which temporarily failed, [500] most of the promoters of the Catholicization of the East intended to win over all these Christian people and their pastors by the means of money, especially after the successful enthroning of the first Syrian Catholic Patriarch. [501] Thus some collectors traveled Europe and especially France to find the necessary funds to pay the Turks and the converts. [502] Despite the condemnation of this method by some missionaries and by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith itself, [503] this new campaign would continue until the installation in 1724 of a Greek patriarch on the apostolic throne of Antioch who was completely Catholicized. [504] The essential thing for these promoters of the union was to submit all the Churches of the East to the authority of the Pope of Rome by sinking them into the post-Tridentine mold of the Western Counter-Reformation. [505] However, these Churches had only intended to be assisted in their misery and their ignorance by a very rich and very flourishing Church (=Roman Church) according to the example of the primitive Church. [506]


Following the exhortation of the Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, in the decree “Unitatis Redintegratio” of November 21, 1964 on the subject of the research in the relations between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches in view of the restoration of full communion between them, [507] we have attempted to provide a stepping stone which would perhaps serve for the reconstruction of the One Church for which Christ prayed for in a particular way “that the world believe” (Jn 17:21).

The paradoxical situation of the Eastern Catholic Churches in general and of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch in particular [508] has urged us to study the relations between this patriarchate and the Church of Rome before the deep rooting of the new ideas brought by the Latin missionaries to the East. For the fifty years between 1622 and 1672 we have noted how prelates, clergy and Orthodox people could live as Catholics and Orthodox at the same time without any direct intervention of Rome or Constantinople in the internal affairs of this patriarchate. On one side people lived in a disciplinary, liturgical, spiritual and theological autonomy; on the other side they recognized the privileged place of the Church of Rome whose head remained the steward of God toward men, to whom Christ once said in the person of Peter: “If you love me more than the others, feed my sheep.”

But, since the installation of a distinct Catholic hierarchy of this Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, they were excommunicated by Constantinople, they were condemned to social and liturgical isolation, and finally they lost their disciplinary, spiritual and theological autonomy. Since then, this Catholic branch never knew how to find its equilibrium in the womb of Orthodoxy of which it was a part. [509]

We cannot deny that this Catholic branch of the Patriarchate of Antioch represents one of the greatest difficulties for the dialogue with Orthodoxy. The dialogue has been profoundly injured by an act of domination on the part of some missionaries who wanted to impose their post-Tridentine theology down to its last corollaries to constitute a community by no means heretical but orthodox and apostolic within one local Church. We can no longer deny that this Catholic branch is an object of shame which we do not dare present to the Orthodox Churches as a sample of what they could be one day if they intended to restore the union according to the principles mentioned by some uniformist theologians. [510] But fortunately after the Vatican Council II the way opened.

Vatican Council II promised the safe-guarding of the liturgical and spiritual patrimony of the Easterners [511] and the restoration of (all) the rules and patriarchal privileges which were in vigor at the time when union existed between east and west. [512] It also found that “communicatio in sacris” in some opportune circumstances, and with the approbation of the ecclesiastical authority, is not only possible with the Orthodox, but even recommended. [513] Without returning to the first millennium where the situation of the Patriarchate of Antioch was very confused, especially after Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, the Arab invasion and iconoclasm, we strongly feel that the period studied in this text should be considered as one of the models of the Orthodox-Catholic life in the Patriarchate of Antioch, either in the collaboration between Latins and Orthodox, or in the autonomy vis-à-vis the new and ancient Rome, or finally in “communicatio in sacris.” Since it would be desirable that after the lifting of the excommunication of the Catholic branch and after the approbation of the Orthodox branch, “Communicatio in sacris” would be the normal state between the still separated brothers of this same patriarchate and that its interdiction be an exception, so that brothers would recognize each other as such after a sorrowful “estrangement” of more than 250 years. In fact, before breaking “the wall of separation between east and west” it would be desirable to lift it in each local Church by living the union daily, especially when it is not agitated by heresy but rather by a separation of pride. The durable union of the holy universal Church would not come uniquely from the summit or the experts, because the Church is not only the hierarchy. [514] The desire that Pope Paul VI expressed for the Church of Alexandria on January 21, 1969 could be accomplished even for the Church of Antioch: “We do not have in our heart the desire more lively and the will more closed than to explore all the possibilities, of seizing all the occasions, of putting into work all the means which would permit us to reestablish between the Church of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the full communion of faith, sacramental life, and hierarchical fraternity.” On April 1, 1969 he added to his message: “Docility to the Holy Spirit will permit us, to us who are already united by the very intimate links of faith and sacramental life, to also deepen more the signification and the exigencies of this unity which we already possess, and to value it more.” [515]

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