Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, newly elected patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, has received congratulations and an affirmation of support from the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The announcement of the election of Aphrem II, a 48-year-old citizen of Syria and former member of the WCC Central Committee and Executive Committee, was made public by the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, on 31 March. Aphrem II currently serves as the archbishop and patriarchal vicar of the diocese of the Eastern United States of America.
The archbishop served as a delegate from his church to the WCC assemblies at Canberra, Australia (1991), Harare, Zimbabwe (1998) and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006).
“We congratulate your fellow bishops for this election and we join the faithful of your Church in their joy at having a new Patriarch and spiritual Father,” Tveit said in a letter issued on 1 April.
“We pray God to strengthen you, to guide you and to accompany you in your new ministry, as you continue along the path of your predecessor of blessed memory, indeed the path of a very long chain of Primates, going back to the time of the apostles,” Tveit added.
Tveit recalled Aphrem II’s active participation in the ecumenical movement, as a member of the WCC Central and Executive Committees, and his participation in the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and as a founding member of the Christian Churches Together in the USA. “We hope that you will continue offering leadership to the ecumenical movement at the national, regional and global levels,” Tveit said.
Aphrem II, 123rd patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, succeeds the late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, who died at the age of 81 on 21 March.