The leading delegation came to visit Lebanon and the Levant at the kind invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, president of the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches. Its visits included Beirut, Damascus, Aleppo, and their suburbs, either to meet our regional ecumenical leaders as well as to visit projects that constitute a model of ecumenical and human solidarity at the global level.
The ecumenical delegation learned firsthand about the impact of successive catastrophes and disasters in large parts of the Arab countries, where we are witnessing a decline at all levels as a result of the siege imposed on them.
The decline includes general stability in various fields, which is reflected at the level of income, standard of living, status of prevention and medical care, quality of nutrition and housing, and the list goes on. Unemployment rates, school dropouts, deviances, domestic and social violence, crime, suicide drug addiction rates, and other evils of bad times, all indicate that our societies are under threat at their roots. Social capital has receded, leaving the stage for anomie and social disintegration to the extent that our societies gradually turn into fragments of social relations, despite the survival of isolated islands of groups that preserved their cohesive structures. For a century this country has been systematically destroyed spot by spot. Only in this region will you find the last people in the world who are still under occupation and under unacceptable conditions by all standards.
In this difficult time, a delegation from the World Council of Churches and the ACT Alliance moved to visit us and appraise our situation in a trend of Christian-human solidarity well known to our sister organizations, our partners for half of a century of struggle.
The delegation that preaches peace and justice came, bringing with it all the love of the disciples of the Incarnate Master who took our place on the cross in order for us to have a better life.
The delegation came to tell us that it is concerned with us, with our destiny, with our life and our future as much as we are concerned.
The eagerness to come to us, assess our conditions, and remind us that we are not alone is a deeply considerate behavior.
We welcomed them to our midst, our sisters and brothers in faith and humanity.
The Middle East Council of Churches is, as you have known it, a place of togetherness, love and dialogue, not only among Christians, but also among all constituents of our diversified societies, religiously, racially and ethnically.
During its five decades, as reaching its golden jubilee, the Middle East Council of Churches formed a unique model of professionalism, objectivity and renewal. It is an institution highly interacting with its environment, monitoring its changes and transformations. It has proven its forward-looking capabilities since its inception.
The Middle East Council of Churches that brings together the churches of the region, brings them together and dialogues with them as it tries to fulfill its duty as best as it can. However this depends on two matters: The first is the support provided to its endeavors by the churches of the region within their available resources. This support is meant to increase in the coming period. The second is the support provided to it by the international ecumenical family represented by the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance. What optimizes this support is the competencies of the Middle East Council of Churches team which is impregnated with Christian faith and its humane manifestations.
Today we are in the post-twelfth General Assembly phase, which resulted in many recommendations and aspirations that we seek to achieve with all our energy, in addition to the ongoing work of our programs, that are proceeding as usual and through which we face the challenges that are increasing day by day, despite our limited resources.
I welcomed the delegation to the land of contradictions and tragedies. They came to us to share faith and courage. As general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches, I will continue to send my best regards to your churches, organizations and peoples and convey to you our gratitude for the solidarity that you have never ceased to show us in various forms.