DAMASCUS–The leaders of the Middle East Easter Orthodox (non-Calcedonian) Church leaders met from last Wednesday to Friday in the Assyrian Monastery of St. Ephram. Taking part in the third of its kind meeting were Patriarch Shnouda III of the Coptic Church–Patriarch Zakka I of the Assyrian Church and His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.
The last meeting between the church leaders took place last March in Egypt and the next such gathering is scheduled to take place in Antelias.
While in Damascus–Aram I met with Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddami and Syrian Prime Minister Mahmoud Zoghbi. The leaders discussed the meeting of the three church leaders–as well as issues pertaining to the World Council of Churches–which is presided over by Aram I.
The meeting also focused on the current situation in Lebanon and the Middle East peace process.
Aram I also issued a congratulatory telegram to Syrian President Hafez Assad who was recently re-elected.
On this occasion–the three religious leaders jointly issued a similar telegram to the Syrian leader.
In his public appearances in Damascus–Aram I praised the Assad’s leadership and his re-election–saying that Assad epitomized Syrian progress and was a leader in Middle East peace.
Upon his return to Antelias–Catholicos Aram I phoned Lebanese president Emil Lahoud and briefed him on the Eastern Orthodox Church leaders’ meeting–as well as his visits with Syrian officials.
Lahoud praised the Catholicos for his contribution in strengthening Lebanon and encouraging cooperation. The Lebanese president also stressed the importance Lebanese-Syrian relations.