Metropolitan Herman expresses deep concern over Middle East crisis to the patriarchs of Jerusalem and Antioch

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — As the crisis in the Middle East widens, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of The Orthodox Church in America, sent letters of support to His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East, and His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilus of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine, in which he shares the concern and prayers of the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America.

The text of the letters, dated July 26, 2006, reads as follows.

“It is with deep sadness and profound distress that we watch the conflict in the Middle East escalate to such already devastating proportions. We deplore the continuing bloodshed and violence that afflicts those lands rich in Biblical history and Christian ancestry. And we call upon all persons involved to negotiate an immediate cease-fire and to work together for a just, peaceful, and lasting solution, not only to this present crisis, but also to the many probems that are the source of such conflict.

“We implore all persons of good will to prayerfully reflect upon the evil nature of the violence that continues to plague the Middle East. We urge them to remember that Our Lord, Jesus Christ, never condoned violence or war in any form, but rather calls upon us to ‘love your enemies’ [Matthew 5:44]. And we encourage them to seek an enduring peace, which alone is the final solution to all human strife and discord.

“We join Your Beatitudes and the entire Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem in praying for the innocent people, of all faiths, whose lives are, and will continue to be, torn apart by the untold violence, suffering, and death that are the results of such conflict. And we especially pray for the Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, and Greek Orthodox Christians, so often ignored by the world community as an insignificant minority. Knowing that every human life is precious in the sight of God, we are asking our faithful to unite all the more fervently in ‘prayer and fasting’ [Matthew 17:21], that this present crisis will be resolved quickly, ending its toll of suffering and death.

“On behalf of the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, please accept from my unworthiness our expression of solidarity and love during this difficult time.”