Today in Jerusalem, as part of our course, 'Division and Hope in the Holy City' with St. George's College, Jerusalem, I visited the Papal Nuncio in Jerusalem, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto. We had a delightful hour discussing Christian presence in Israel/Palestine - with its complexities and ambiguities. In particular we had an in depth discussion on recent ecumenical achievements in Rome, especially the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre, the IARCCUM bishop pairs' visit, the giving of the crozier by Pope Francis to Archbishop Justin, and the Common Declaration. We agreed that the way forward, in Jerusalem and the Middle East, was a deeper commitment to joint action in terms of justice & peace, including refugee ministry and deeper ecumenical dialogue. There is much that we now share that wasn't the case fifty years ago.
The group then had an audience with Mar Swerios Malki Morad, a bishop from the Syrian Orthodox Church. He described the persecution of Syrian Christians as well as the ancient heritage of his church, which goes back to the language and practice of Jesus. He lead us in chanting the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic, which was particularly moving.
We then visited Patriarch Norhan of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem, at his headquarters on Mt Zion. He spoke warmly of many friendships between Armenian and Anglican Christians, including mutual hospitality and co-operation, especially where Anglicans have opened their churches and seminaries to Armenians all over the world. We pledged ourselves to describe the plight of Armenian Christians all over the Middle East to our home churches.
Today we have been left very conscious of the persecution of indigenous Christians in the Middle East. The Armenian Patriarch spoke particularly movingly to me about the plight of his home town, Aleppo. I was left with the deep impression of the indestructability of Christian hope in the face of huge suffering.
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