Australian Churches give thanks for life Syrian Orthodox Patriarch
It is with deep sorrow that news of the death of His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, supreme spiritual leader of the Syrian Orthodox Church, is received in Australia. The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA)gives thanks for the life and leadership of Patriarch Zakka Iwas.
Patriarch Zakka Iwas was born in Mosel Iraq 21 April 1933 and died 21 March 2014 in Germany. Although he had been battling illness for some time his death has taken the church by surprise. He was enthroned in Damascus in 1980 as the supreme spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East.
“We thank God for his life, witness and leadership that has given stability during the unrest in Syria.” said NCCA general secretary Rev Tara Curlewis.
Many AustralianChurch leaders joined with Archbishop Mor Malatius Malki Malki and the Consul General for Syria at the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese in Lidcombe NSW to pray and offer condolences for the life of the Patriarch.
Curlewis said “He was a great ecumenical leader and served as President of the World Council of Churches 1998 – 2006, providing significant leadership over many years. In Australia Patriarch Zakka Iwas is remembered for his three visits here and his contribution to dialogue between the churches.”
“The Syrian Orthodox Church is a member of the Oriental family of churches so the death of the Patriarch is also felt deeply by the Coptic, Ethiopian and ArmenianOrthodoxChurches.”
Curlewis concluded “The Patriarch’s poor health has not limited in any way his commitment to Christian unity, and in a small way it has been seen more clearly as he kept close ecumenical relations with other churches and participated in the enthronement of the new Coptic Pope in Cairo November 2012.”
During the recent years of unrest in Syria he has offered wise counsel and stability to the people and the Church in Syria.
The church has arranged services in Germany and Lebanon prior to the Patriarchs burial Friday 28 March 2014, in the tomb at St. Ephrem the Syrian Monastery in Ma’arrat Saydhaya in Damascus.
Many in Australia are holding the Holy Synod in prayer as they farewell the Patriarch and discern God’s call for a new Patriarch for the church.