This is quite incredible, that a Latin suffragan living in peace and security should presume to attack the third highest ranking bishop in the entire church, whose flock is subjected to daily martyrdom, to accuse him of corruption and to call for the atheist government of France to make war on his country in aid of the men who are murdering our brothers in Christ. In former (purer) ages this man would be excommunicated and deposed and restored to lay communion only after the proper penance.
Your Excellency, and dear brother in the episcopate,
You have made grave and public accusations about me on air on Radio Notre Dame. Doubtless you have no idea how your defamatory words have wounded – and put in danger – the Melkite community so cruelly put to the test for many years.
What a contrast with the concern of Pope Francis and the spiritual solidarity of my brothers in the episcopate and of many private individual French people, which is so touching.
Furthermore, many Eastern Christians are keen French speakers and they have been dealt a particularly sad blow by the attacks of an Academician such as yourself.
Legitimate differences of opinion on geopolitics do not seem to me to justify the act of violently undermining episcopal fraternity and of shocking a whole Church by attacking its Patriarch.
As loud as I can, and resolute in the face of all the difficulties and tragedies of these last two years, I have not ceased to call for dialogue and above all reconciliation, as the only basis for Syria’s salvation – something for which I am ready to offer my life in sacrifice.
Always available to you to speak more of these things, I assure you, Your Excellency, of my prayer for peace, ecclesial communion, yourself and your diocese.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem