At the end of the liturgy, Patriarch John X, on the feast of St Martyr Joseph of Damascus, sought the intercession of St Joseph, especially in the circumstances in which people are living in these days. He also welcomed the guests, wishing them a successful and fruitful visit on all levels.
The WCC delegation visited Syria to express solidarity with Christians and with all people facing the struggle for a presence and witness in their land.
In his reflection, Sauca expressed how deeply profound the visit was for him and the other members of the delegation. “We came together to show our solidarity with you, to tell you that you are not alone,” he said. “We think of you, we pray for you, and we care for you, and we came here also to refill ourselves and fill our batteries.”
Sauca reflected that Christianity started here. “You are in the cradle of Christianity and you have been witnessing to Christ and his resurrection for centuries,” he said. “Your witness encourages us.”
Though Christians and the people of Syria endured) several tribulations in past and present times, they are still in Syria witnessing to Christ’s resurrection, he noted. “For us, that is very important and very encouraging,” he said.
Sauca noted that the WCC will have its 11th assembly in September in Germany. “We come to listen to you and to bring your concerns and your experiences in front of other people all over the world when we go to Germany,” he said, noting how this resonates with the assembly theme, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”
Reflecting on the Gospel reading during the Liturgy which narrated the healing of the paralitic servant of a Roman centurion, Sauca concluded that God does not look at the face of people or at their national belonging or their religion. “God looks at the heart of the people, not at their lips,” he said. “Looking at you here in the Middle East, I see that you learned how to live with one another.”
We see mosques and churches side by side, he said. “You learned to live with one another, respect and love one another.,” he said. “This is what God in Christ wants from us.”
As Orthodox, Sauca noted, he is proud to say his faith comes from here. “And you people here carried that torch of faith from the Apostolic times until today,” he said. “Sisters and brothers, you don’t have to tell us anything or to preach to us. We go back home impressed with what we have seen here.”
He concluded with a special message for youth to have courage: “Your place is here. Your roots are here,” he said.
WCC delegation visits Syria, expresses solidarity with those who “remain steadfast in their land” - WCC news release 13 July 2022