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Letter to Prime Minister Suleiman al-Bakhit

Letter to the Prime Minister of Jordan Dr Marouf Suleiman al-Bakhit, expressing concern over the news that the Jordanian government decided to withdraw its recognition from the legally elected Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

18 May 2007

Geneva, 18 May 2007

Your Excellency,

Greetings in the name of almighty God.

It is with deep concern that the World Council of Churches (WCC) received the news that your honorable government decided to withdraw its recognition from the legally elected His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine. We want to express our fear that such a decision might lead to a division among the Orthodox Christian community in Jordan and Palestine with negative ecclesial and socio-political consequences.

We understand the reason behind this decision by the Jordanian government, and interpret it in terms of strengthening the Christian Arab presence and witness in Jordan and Palestine. In this sense we also welcome the recent decisions of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate under the leadership of His Beatitude Theophilos III, to accelerate the process of satisfying the request formulated by the Arab faithful of the patriarchate.

In a period where the WCC is convening an international peace conference in Amman (17-21 June) calling the churches worldwide to coordinate their actions towards ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and working for a just peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, this decision might prove counter productive for all peace initiatives and distract from the goals of this conference.

Although fully aware that your government's decision does not interfere in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem in terms of judging the legality of His Beatitude's election by the Holy Synod of that church, we still believe that recognizing His Beatitude as the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine is of utmost importance for the good governance of the institutions related to that patriarchate.

We therefore, very respectfully and kindly ask your honorable government to reconsider its decision so that peace and harmony within the church prevail again. Thanking you in advance for the positive attention that you will give to this special request, we look forward to have a fruitful consultation in Amman next June.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary