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Following my reflection last week on the death of Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim on 5 December (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17573, I should add that his successor has just been elected at Balamand Monastery in Beirut, in the early morning hours of Monday 17 December 2012.
The new patriarch, who will become known as Youhanna X, is Bishop Youhana Al-Yazigi, aged 57, from Lattakia in Syria .Trained as a civil engineer, he pursued his theological studies in Lebanon and later in Greece. He has held many positions within the Church and was elected as Metropolitan of western and central Europe in 2008.
The formal Synodal procedure consisted of twenty bishops from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Europe meeting for the election. Each bishop was meant to nominate three bishops to succeed the late patriarch. In a second round of voting, the patriarch will have been elected from among the three bishops who received the highest number of votes from the first round.
However, according to some ecclesial sources, the election was somewhat surprisingly fast in an indication not only of the fact that the choice might have been straightforward, but also of the deep concern of the church about the events in Syria and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa region.
Confronting those challenges facing Syrian and Lebanese Christians will top the agenda of the new patriarch. In his first press conference following his election, the newly-elected leader highlighted that Christians and Muslims share the same fate, that his confidence in his people is very deep and that “our path is the path of the cross”. Answering a reporter's question, the patriarch also stressed that “Christians will remain in Syria and it is their land.”
The new patriarch also underlined his conviction in working ecumenically with other church leaders. Congratulations will be received on 18 and 19 December 2012 at the Patriarchal See in Beirut.
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK), Ecumenical consultant to the Primate of Armenian Church in UK & Ireland, and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net Follow him on Twitter here: @harryhagopianTweet