25 March 2014
The Conference of European Churches extends its condolences to the Syrian Orthodox Church on the passing away of its Supreme Spiritual Head, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas I, on 21st March 2014. He was 81 years old.
Patriarch Zakka was a much respected church leader in the Middle East and a prominent figure in the worldwide ecumenical movement. He served as President of the World Council of Churches from 1998 to 2006 and made valuable contributions to the dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Through his efforts, Patriarch Zakka helped to bridge differences and clarified many theological misunderstandings that divided the Christian world for centuries.
Being one of the founders of the Middle East Council of Churches and its earliest leaders, Patriarch Zakka was deeply committed to the values and principles of ecumenism, and concretised these through his works and actions in the region.
Patriarch Zakka cared deeply for the Syrian people and was loved, in return, for his gentle and kind ways. It is during this time of much suffering caused by the vicious cycle of violence and conflict in Syria that church leaders like Patriarch Zakka are most needed. And it is in the context of this most terrible and sad moment in the history of his country that we mourn his passing.
The Conference of European Churches enjoins its member churches to pray for the eternal repose of his soul. Pray also that God may heed the cries of the Syrian people for a lasting and just peace in Syria and the Middle East.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a communion of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all European countries, and 40 organisatios in partnership. It was founded in 1959. The CEC has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.
For more information:
CEC General Secretariat
Phone: +41 22 791 6228
Fax: +41 22 791 627