Eastern Church Leaders & MECC Join His Holiness Pope Francis in Bari for Ecumenical Prayer Service


On Saturday, 7 July, 2018  the Middle East Council of Churches and Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant heads of Eastern Churches gathered in Bari, Italy at the invitation of His Holiness Pope Francis for a special ecumenical prayer service for peace in the Middle East and closed roundtable discussion among the church leaders.

The gathering was a special occasion in that it brought together nearly all Middle Eastern heads of churches, as well as the Council, for koinonia and dialogue with His Holiness Pope Francis. The location of the gathering, in Bari, Italy, was a symbol of unity in that it is considered a gateway between East and West and the relics of St. Nicholas (venerated by both the Catholics and Orthodox) are housed there.

The program included a group visit to the relics of St. Nicholas, the prayer service and a closed roundtable between church leaders.

The ecumenical prayer service, attended by an estimated 50,000 people, was a display of the exquisite and diverse expressions of our shared Christian faith in nine languages (Arabic, Assyrian, Armenian, Syriac, Latin, Italian, English, French, and Greek). Each church leader contributed a liturgical portion of the service, which also incorporated Eastern liturgical songs from Chaldean cantors into the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy.

The gathering was attended by the following heads of churches or their representatives:

Oriental Orthodox Churches

His Holiness Tawadros II
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
Coptic Orthodox Church

His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East

His Holiness Aram I
Armenian Apostolic Church, Holy See of Cilicia

His Grace Hovakim
Bishop of the United Kingdom and Ireland
Armenian Apostolic Church, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
(Representing His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians)

Eastern Catholic Churches

His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphaël I Sako
Patriarch of Babylon
Chaldean Catholic Church of Babylon

His Beatitude Mor Ibrahim Isaac
Patriarch of Alexandria and the Copts
Coptic Catholic Church

Mor Ignatius Youssef III Yonan
Patriarch of Antioch and the Syrians
Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch

His Beatitude Cardinal Mor Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi 
Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch

His Excellency Jean-Clément Jeanbart
Archbishop Metropolitan of Aleppo
(Representing His Beatitude Mar Youssef Absi, Patriarch of the Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch)
Melkite Greek Catholic Church

His Beatitude Cardinal Krikor Bedros XX
Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia
Armenian Catholic Church

His Excellency Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Apostolic Administrator sede vacante
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Orthodox Churches

His All Holiness Bartholomew I
Ecumenical Patriarch

His Beatitude Theodoros II
Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
Greek Orthodox Chruch of Alexandria and All Africa

His Eminence Nektarios
Archbishop of Anthedon, Patriarchal Vicar in Constantinople
(Representing Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem)
Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem

His Eminence Hilarion
Metropolitan of Volokolamsk
(Representing His Holiness Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia)
Greek Orthodox Church of Russia

His Eminence Vasilios
Metropolitan of Konstantia and Ammochostos
(Representing His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus)
Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus

Protestant Churches

Most Reverend Sani Ibrahim Azar
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Assyrian Orthodox Church

His Holiness Mar Gewargis II
Catholicos Patriarch
Assyrian Church of the East

Middle East Council of Churches

Dr. Souraya Bechealany
Secretary General
Middle East Council of Churches