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17516New Greek Orthodox patriarch enthroned in Syria

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Feb 11, 2013
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      Sunday, 02.10.13

      New Greek Orthodox patriarch enthroned in Syria

      The Associated Press

      DAMASCUS, Syria -- Syria's Greek Orthodox Church enthroned a new
      patriarch during a ceremonial mass in Damascus on Sunday amid civil war.

      John Yazigi, 57, replaces Ignatius Hazim as the Eastern Orthodox
      Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. Hazim died in December.

      There are a number of mostly autonomous Eastern Orthodox churches in the
      Middle East and the region also has more than a half dozen patriarchs,
      including the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the
      spiritual leader of world's Orthodox Christians.

      Christians represent about five per cent of the population in Syria,
      where rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad are locked in a
      civil war the UN says has killed more than 60,000 people.

      The conflict started as peaceful protests against Assad's rule nearly
      two years ago, but turned into civil war that has taken increasingly
      sectarian overtones. Mostly Sunni Muslim rebels fight a regime that is
      dominated by Alawaites, an offshoot Shiite group.

      During the ceremony in the Church of Holy Cross in Damascus, Patriarch
      Yazigi said he will work for peace and pray for unity.

      "We are certain that Syria will find a way to salvation through dialogue
      and a peaceful political solution," the patriarch said after his
      inauguration that was broadcast live by Syrian State TV.

      Yazigi is from the Syrian city of Latakia, where he established the
      city's first Christian music school. He is trained as a civil engineer.

      Among dignitaries attending Sunday's ceremony marking his enthronement
      as the new patriarch was the head of Lebanon's Maronite Catholic church,
      Cardinal Bechara al-Rai.

      His trip to Damascus is the first by the leader of the Maronite Church
      in decades. The church was an outspoken critic of Syria's three-decade
      domination and military presence in Lebanon.

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