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An Arab Bishop - Rare Day for Orthodoxy in the Holy Land

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  • emrys@globe.net.nz
    Rare Day for Orthodoxy in the Holy Land 03-Jan-06 Maria C. Khoury http://www.hcef.org/hcef/index.cfm/mod/news/ID/16/SubMod/NewsView/NewsID/140 9.cfm
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2006
      Rare Day for Orthodoxy in the Holy Land

      Maria C. Khoury



      Orthodoxy is not based on ethnicity but in Jerusalem with the dominant Greek
      leadership in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate there were cheers, clapping,
      whistling and extreme joy expressed at the ordination of the Palestinian
      Archimandrite Attalla Hanna ordained Theodosios Archbishop of Sabastia on
      December 24, 2005. To be lighting candles at Christ's Holy Tomb on the Eve
      of the Nativity of the Lord is not the place to be when everyone else is
      heading to Bethlehem to receive the New Born King. However, this was not an
      ordinary day in the Holy Land.

      It was a special day that the Palestinian Orthodox Christian community has
      been waiting for over twenty-five years since the passing of the first
      Palestinian bishop from our village of Taybeh, Bishop Symon in the early
      1980's. This historical day in the Orthodox Christian community was blessed
      by the new patriarch His Beatitude Theophilos III officiated with
      representatives from Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Greece attending in
      witness of this extraordinary day for a Palestinian Orthodox bishop. I have
      such little faith thinking the recent patriarchate scandals would not allow
      this day to happen in my lifetime.

      The Orthodox community in Palestine has been waiting anxiously to see a
      minimum of two local bishops of Arab ethnicity to join the Greek Orthodox
      leadership as stipulated by Church policy and this issue alone has created a
      huge gap among the Greeks of the Brotherhood and the local Arab faithful. As
      a scholar, His Beatitude Theophilos always speaks eloquently but the most
      important emphasis was that the Holy Synod finally fulfilled one of its
      obligations to the Orthodox community with the new ordination of the
      Palestinian bishop. Furthermore, all of us were thrilled that an Orthodox
      Christian woman, Ms. Hind Khoury, Ministry of State, Jerusalem Portfolio,
      was the official representative of the Palestinian Authority to this rare

      The representative from the Jordanian Parliament, a well known Orthodox
      layman, Dr. Odeh Qawas did not forget to thank the bishop's mother for
      helping to raise him the Orthodox way and maintain the traditions and values
      of the One True Faith.

      Born (1965) in Al-Rameh (near Haifa) to Arab Israeli Orthodox Christian
      parents, Yacoub and Alice, the new bishop has only one brother and one
      sister. He was ordained a priest (1991) at the Holy Sepulchre the same spot
      where this holy sacrament took place. He has represented the World Council
      of Churches at meetings on human rights during which the suffering of
      Palestinian people was discussed. For his devotion and dedication to the
      Holy Land ministry, Archbishop Theodosios has received an honorary doctor of
      theology degree from the Sophia Theological Institute of Bulgaria. He also
      studied theology for seven years in Greece. He is one of the few highly
      educated Palestinian clergymen that speak out for justice and peace for all
      people in the region. He has served as the official spokesperson for the
      Greek Orthodox Patriarchate for many years appointed by the late Patriarch

      Archbishop Theodosios, well respected by the Christian and Muslim people was
      called "bishop" even years before his official elevation and is against all
      forms of violence and supports non-violent solutions to the Israeli military
      occupation. The Israeli propaganda machine has tried to smear his reputation
      and marginalize him in the past especially since he is very competent to
      fill the gap between Christians and Muslims and has often participated in
      Christian-Muslim dialogue promoting better relations among the different
      faiths united by cultural, social and political aspirations.

      The new bishop is a man of great faith that can lead us to better
      understanding and relations with others serving the Lord in a very troubled
      land. "Axios" was shouted in many languages! Sadly since many Palestinian
      Orthodox Christians could not enter Jerusalem to witness this sacrament due
      to Israeli military policy requiring permits, various receptions were held
      in different locations to congratulate His Eminence the new Palestinian
      Archbishop of Sabastia Theodosios.
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