2003, Articles, Raiati

Patience / 16.11.2003

What is the meaning of the patience of Job and that of Christ and the martyrs and saints? What is this virtue that Christ talked about saying: “He who endures to the end will be saved”? Does it mean to get defeated in front of difficulties and submit for “God’s anger to pass” or does it mean something deeper? There is no doubt that the meaning is not to tolerate “annoying people” and those who irritate or harm us so that we wouldn’t confront them, because this is considered avoidance and preferring comfort over solving our problems with people. In front of the painful existence, the Lord doesn’t ask us to have calm nerves or to be careless because if you left the annoying stuff to go on its track and you didn’t correct the situations that you can fix, then you would be participating in the pervasive evil around you.

First of all, patience is to pray for the other so that God’s grace will be on him and that he repents and his situation gets better and he gets healed from his problems. There is, of course, a reformation in each one of us that requires time. The patient is he who considers that the time exists and that the amelioration of others requires grace from God. The patient person also knows that the calmness that he confronts other with is an element of the elements of the reformation, and the calmness carries a request for mercy on the other whose life became difficult. Patience is, therefore, an attitude towards God who, does not change souls of people at the instant, but waits their participation in his bestowal and their acceptance to the divine thought. This is why the writer of the psalms said: “Be still for the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37: 7). You know that God is your helper in the tolerance of discomforts and that you need him to be able to tolerate them.

Being patient means that you are not arrogant, that you don’t hate and don’t worship yourself and that you understand the other in his pride and anger. Take this other to your heart, maybe he’d enter from it to God’s heart. Be compassionate until the end and break you heart through humbleness. Be humble not only in front of God but also in front of people. The father of all clemencies will then have mercy on you, and Jesus would embrace you to his chest and raise you during the long time that passes on you while waiting his mercy on others.

If you felt that you should blame or moralize, do that but without any shouting or arrogance or considering yourself greater than the person that have mistook. You do not need to blame and moralize all the time, but we do need to be compassionate all the time towards those that life tortured them. If you were humble, then this is a good way to correct the mistake of others, but you will not be patient except if you were liberated from the purpose which is the ego. Learn not to ask anything for yourself, and not to put conditions on the person that God gave you to help.

For you will not be patient except if you were independent and you liberated yourself from the thing that you are enduring. If someone was a master over you, then you have nothing to do with patience. You see those who do not understand and that who doesn’t have any love. You also see hypocrites. Include all of these in God’s mercy that you have inside you. And if you learned that every person is wounded and thrown on the road of life, heal his wounds, take care of him and don’t ask for anything in return or to be thanked. Be happy with all people all the time, give them condolence in their misery, embrace them, and be always honest with them.

All of this added together is patience; since it is a satisfaction to God you do everyday even if you were tired from a lot of people, these people that Christ died for.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الصبر” – 16.11.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

Our Canonical Situation in America / 26.10.2003

The Archdiocese of New York and Northern America (United States and Canada) felt that it needs to have a special or particular canonical situation that allows it to manage its internal issues through a locative council made of the Metropolitan and the current four bishops. This way each of these bishops will have a region to manage called Episcopate and this way he will not remain an honorary bishop but will have people to pastor and a kind of “particularism” that gives him the freedom of movement over his land. The bishop will carry the title of the city he lives in and not the title of a historical city that existed in this land.

The Metropolitan shall remain a member of the Holy Synod and would be the head of the regional synod we mentioned. The bishops will be allowed to attend the meetings of the Antiochian Synod in case bishops from the homeland and diasporas were invited in addition to the Metropolitans of the Archdioceses.

This idea of becoming different from the archdioceses of the homeland emerged from the fact that a large number of the faithful are being “Americanized”. These generations started praying in English and melting in the American society. However, they still have a kind of nostalgia for Antioch and for their roots here. After many years, Orthodox believers from different nationalities might melt in one church. However, this idea hasn’t matured yet and this is why the Greeks still follow Constantinople and the Arabs follow Antioch. These meet each other through love and through a body of bishops that represent all communities.

Concerning the election of the Metropolitan, his candidacy happens there but he is elected by the Antiochian Council according to its followed procedure until this day. As for the bishop, his candidacy is given temporarily by the general assembly in America and could be then nominated by an assembly from his region. After that, the bishops elect him with three representative Metropolitans from the Holy Synod and he is ordained there.

This was decided by the Holy Synod in its autumn meeting in the Patriarchate, Damascus. This has put an end for the confusions, tensions and conflicts in several places. This decision was taken in an atmosphere full of love and hope because our brothers in immigration are walking with us, together, in one Antiochian belonging and in one intention to support the Orthodox faith here and there. And the thing that made people more convinced with such a solution is the fact that foreigners that converted into Orthodoxy have entered this faith through Antioch’s door and that neither converts nor Arabs have any will to form a separate Church.

From the theological point of view, we have reached a situation where every bishop is independent from the other even if they united in one episcopate. This encourages him to take actions in his region. In principle, and until few centuries ago, we didn’t have a bishop without people; the archbishop cannot be amputated from his people. The pastoral conclusion of this is that this Archdiocese shall stay one and exchanging experiences and thoughts with us; and we hope that declaring this step will strengthen the relationship between the mother Church and the countries of immigration.

Of course, a renaissance doesn’t come automatically after changing something in the administration. It descends from the Holy Spirit that makes great believers and creative thinkers. Antioch remains only an expression if it wasn’t accompanied by holiness and a new theological thinking that confronts modern man and the emerging challenges so that Christ stays everything and in everything.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: وضعنا القانوني في أميركا” ” –Raiati no43- 26.10.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

Mercy / 05.10.2003

The Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of mercy par excellence. In the outset of today’s reading (Luke 6: 31–36) the Evangelist presents a behavioral basis: “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. Therefore, if you want people to have sympathy towards you, to help you, to serve you during tribulations, and to come to you in your sickness, you should do these same things when you find people in such situations.

Then, Luke ascends to one higher degree and says: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” If you wanted to express your love through charity, do it to any person in-need and not only to a relative or friend since you might be expecting these to be thankful or to treat you in the same way if you passed through a difficulty. Give the person that you don’t expect to reward you, to become closer to you and that might not come back to thank you. Luke mentions a practical example on that: “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?” This person might not be able to pay the loan that he signed, would you then send him to jail? How would that benefit you? If you were not able to give a big debt, then don’t do it. You must know that some people might take advantage of your tendency to help the poor and your mercy in order not to pay you back even if they had the ability. Deal with this situation. There is something called “a dignity debt” and it means giving someone an amount and not suing him: He might pay you back if he could and might not even if he was able to do that. In this situation, let the Lord deal with him.

Then, Luke ascends to another degree also and says “love your enemies”. The word “love” here doesn’t mean that you should make your enemy a friend of yours because he might not accept this friendship. On the lowest levels, the word means that you should not hate even if you were internally hurt since oppression hurts. Most of the times, you cannot convince your enemy that there is no real reason for his hatred or hurting. He might start a fierce campaign and stain your reputation and this is all because the devil has entered him and stained his soul or because there are people that have hatred as their natural approach and are delighted with harm. Jesus wants you not to return hatred with hatred, because hatred carries injustice and through it you will stain your heart and take its calmness away. Once your soul becomes muddled, you will not be able to see God’s face since God is peace.

The Evangelist presents an argument concerning forgiveness as he says that through forgiveness, you become a son of God who “is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”. He sends the rain and the sunlight to all people as Matthew says; he gives people their food whoever they were and gives the sinner various gifts perhaps he would repent.

Then, Luke ends this chapter by saying: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. Here, Jesus asks you to behave as God does. And you are capable of doing that if you recognized that grace made you a son of God, i.e. in communion with Jesus being the Son of God.

Linguistically, being merciful means that your chest should be wide enough for all people. This is how God’s chest is. The important thing is that you understand that sin is the only thing that can deeply harm you. And mercy could be successful in bringing back a person to his sanity. He might not be affected by your mercy, but you would have saved yourself from hatred. And when you reach the highest level of forgiveness you would become like God your Father. Forgiveness erases every guilt in you and makes you trained to humility. The person that doesn’t forgive is the one that can’t endure his wound. However, people might hurt you a lot. You are asked to bleed and heal your wound through the only effective medicine which is forgiveness. All sins captivate us, but no sin does that as hatred that imprisons us. In the same way that you easily forgive your naughty or aggressive son because he is from your flesh and blood, you should forgive all “naughty” people because they are from Christ’s flesh and blood.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الرحمة” –Raiati no40- 05.10.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

To the Priest / 27.07.2003

This word addresses our lay brothers too because they shall become closer to piety when their pastor is or wants to be on Christ’s image. However, I am not addressing you because of a problem but because I desire that you become great so that Christ’s Church stays in its glory. People make you responsible for making it look beautiful or ugly. Yes, the Gospel was delivered to all believers, but you were asked to keep it well in your heart and on your tongue so that it is poured in the hearts of the faithful and embraces them to the Lord’s chest.

You know that, and you also know that we always stop reading. Yes, I know that you are occupied with worship, baptisms, and funerals and that some seasons take your time and energy. Beware not to get used to worship until it becomes a routine repetition with its words on your tongue and without any flame behind these words. Then, the devil whispers in your ears: “You are a good priest because you master the Liturgy and because you take care of the Church as a temple and you manage the parish council meetings and you gather children and the youth and you have the clinic for the sick. Isn’t all your time taken because of visiting houses? In principle, you work and teach, and according to the bible, you are qualified to enter the Kingdom of Heavens”.

Be careful! These are satanic words that could make you forget the most important thing. God said to the Angel of the Church of Ephesus: “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Rev 2: 3–4). Then he says to the responsible of the Church of Ephesus: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen and repent”. As if God doesn’t give any importance to the effort that this bishop has put because he still holds against him that he has left the love he had at first.

Then, the devil might whisper in your ear: “Are there other things to do and give all your time during the day and some during the night?” Sin is exactly the following: To think that the priest’s life lies all in his work and especially in rituals, teaching and some visits for the sick and poor. No my friend, the depth of a person isn’t in what he works and teaches. His depth is in his heart, and work flows from the heart.

The heart often becomes lukewarm and the person becomes a victim of his appearance, of his speech or of his church social life or sometimes of his earthly things. Sometimes he might make Christ drown in the masterful rituals and this person always drowns in the sweet talk that doesn’t flow from your luminous inside through the light of grace.

Nothing from what you say or do secures your internal health although this health doesn’t become correct except through a work and teaching that express your faith. But the important thing is to be constantly flaming with Jesus’ love who is the only one that protects you from pride. Pride threatens successful people and active priests.

You cannot continue the journey being lukewarm. Remember that the Lord spits the lukewarm out of his mouth. It is your decision to be hot and this is nourished through the Word and deep continuous prayer that is done in complete awareness word by word. People always differentiate between the person that recites a lesson and another whose words come from a loving heart for his Lord. If you had this flame, you will not consider any person great to the extent of fearing him and no one will still seem despicable. This happens because the Lord that dwells in you makes you see as he does and become humble in front of everyone as he did.

When your heart breaks down in order to receive Christ in it, nothing will worry you anymore. If any maliciousness or gossip happened, they will be crushed in front of your loving soul. Remember your first love when the Holy Spirit chose you and the bishop put his hand on you and you may have cried while kneeling in front of the Holy table and poured all your spirit, back then, in front of Christ. If you loved this way, a lot of people will be saved. If you loved this much and became chaste and died in front of everything in this world, you will be a martyr.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “إلى الكاهن” –Raiati 30- 27.07.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

The Parish Council Again and Again / 25.05.2003

Nothing tortures me and some priests as parish councils do; they are councils full of wrong mentalities. Some councils work with a peaceful, brotherly and pious spirit. There is a difficulty in applying laws for reasons that differ between a place and another. The law says that you choose the members among the active believers that you find in every Divine Liturgy. However, reality shows that we don’t see all the members of the council participating with us in the Divine service. You can’t know previously who will come to the service and who won’t come. The true issue isn’t to find someone that can control properties and money but to find a person that has the spirit of the Lord.

Being a member in a parish council means that you should commit to the Church in its spiritual sense, and contribute with the priest in attracting believers to the Church at least by being present yourself and by getting your family members to Church. Perhaps the solution is to have classes to choose candidates for parish councils and choose those who have more jealousy towards the Church and a greater knowledge. However, the thought that controls us in every village is choosing the members from different families and finding a balance between large families, but you might not find in every large family or in every house qualified people to fill this position and carry the responsibility. Sometimes you must have disequilibrium in order to have efficient and qualified people to manage the spiritual, administrative, and financial issues that impose their selves in every parish. It’s a pity to tire the Archdiocese by imposing selection from every family.

This was concerning the selection. As for the progress of issues, it is required from all the members to always live through a brotherly spirit in which they respect each other and live in Christ’s peace so that a person doesn’t get controlled by staying attached to his opinion when a fellow member proves him wrong. There is no place in the council to have groups in conflict where you stay with a group and the other in another group and stubbornness enters and a discussion doesn’t happen because it is a “partisanship” discussion or based on prejudice. If no one gives something up for the other and for the sake of the truth and reality, things won’t go in a healthy way. The unity of the group is better than insisting on your opinion. All opinions collide and arguments reply on other arguments, but loyalty is more important than having one opinion and imposing it.

The other thing is to accept to leave the council when its time ends. The form of the council in its nature is not permanent. And this is what the Holy Synod insisted on because it wanted to have what is called in democracy “Authority exchange”.

The wisdom behind changing people is to find an opportunity for the good discerning believer to show his gifts and for the Church to benefit from him. Every person that dies is laid off unless he had great gifts and was unique because the Church loses if it laid him off. Those people are few. You should give the opportunity for the active and giving believer to enter.

Then, the council doesn’t form a reigning family that stays forever. If a member’s position wasn’t renewed when the time of the council ends, this doesn’t mean that we complain from him. The only idea for us is that we should encourage the rising groups that we didn’t know before and discovered later. Leaving the parish council teaches the members humbleness and they should stay in the parish and know what is happening and contribute in thought because many discussed projects are known by people outside the council and once they give their opinion they would be exactly as those in the council.

If you wanted this law to stay active, we should, in God’s grace, increase in piety and in the spirit of peacefulness and we should make issues become smoothly discussed so that we actually become real brothers for each other.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مجلس الرعية أيضًا وأيضًا” –Raiati 21- 25.05.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

Did the Words of the Scripture Change? / 18.05.2003

On Sunday May 4th, I celebrated the Divine Liturgy outside Lebanon and then met some parishioners for some coffee and one of them asked me why do we mention in our prayers the word “Zion” or “Israel”? Can’t we cancel these words and replace them with others? I was aware that he wanted that so that he doesn’t hear expressions that would remind him of the state of Israel. For the word “Zion”, I answered him that it was one of the hills on which Jerusalem stood. David came to this place with the Ark of the Covenant and therefore the hill became holy. And then when the Temple was built, the Ark was transferred to it and Zion took a wider range and included the Temple. And Jerusalem is frequently called Zion. Then, the neo-Jewish movement took the name “Zionism” in reference to their settlement in that place. When we use a verse from the Holy Scripture that contains the name of this hill, we wouldn’t be accepting Zionism because modern Jews took its name from Zion, the hill.

As for the word Israel, it refers to Jacob who gave this name to his offspring that the Scripture called “the sons of Israel”. Then the name was given to the northern kingdom of Palestine. And the prophets also used the names in a spiritual sense, and Apostle Paul differentiated between “Israel by the flesh” and “Israel by the spirit”. Also, in the Gospel of John, the word doesn’t carry any sense of nationalism but refers to the faith of the person.

When the word “Israel” is mentioned in chanting or in the readings from the prophets, an acquainted person shouldn’t think that it means the current state of Israel. The current name was found by the Jews that established their state in 1948 in order to benefit from the words as Christians recognize it from the Old Testament and in order to unite this word with the state that extorted Palestine or a part of it. This is a Jewish slyness that shouldn’t lead us to cancel the word from the Scripture. If you quoted the Divine Book, you must be faithful to its texts and explain to people why, as Christians, we don’t recognize the “land of the promise” and do not bless the adoption of modern Jews to this word to show that they are the heirs of this land.

When we say about Christ in the Vespers (taken from the Gospel of Luke): “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel”, we mean that Jesus came as a light for the Gentiles and Jews and combined both. If you said like some chanters do: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to the faithful” – or any similar phrase – you would be changing the meaning that Luke wanted. How could you also change the phrase that we chant during the Paschal period: “The Lord from the fountains of Israel”?

Why don’t Muslims object over the usage of the word “Israel” in the Quran?

We believe in the Old Testament and that it is inspired by God and that it has no reference to any kind of nationalism and we cannot use it to support any nation. Old words stay in their place. And instead of harming our ears with the current meaning that was given to the word, we should explain our usage of the word. Our Coptic brothers, that reject the state of Israel as we do, didn’t replace any word in their prayers and their scholars explained to them that mentioning the word in prayers doesn’t push us to accept this state that was established with oppression towards Palestinian people. If the state of Israel vanished, do we go back to the usage of the word again?

Divine words stay as they are, and we should start understanding these words as they were meant by the Prophets and Psalms.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “هل تُغيَّر كلمات الكتاب؟” –Raiati no20- 18.05.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

Cloning from a Religious Aspect / 02.02.2003

If we supposed that human cloning was achieved, knowing that it isn’t until now, how could we judge it with divine thinking since God rules over everything and nothing rules him? First, we say that not every technological achievement is permissible. For example, science discovered how to work on the nucleus but didn’t teach us to manufacture the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Man should stay away from destroying humanity. Ethics should supervise scientific development.

What does God, who taught us ethics, say about giving birth to children, which is believed to be the purpose of what was called reproductive cloning that happens through the encounter between an ovule and a nucleus taken from a cell? God says: I have made for you a way to reproduce and it is the encounter between man and woman. God says in the book of Genesis: “Male and female he created them”, and this came after him saying: “God created mankind in his own image and likeness”. This means that man is male and female united together or that man and woman complete each other in a common life which is marriage in which the fruits are children except in sterility cases. This common life results from love and in it love is created; this love that became the basis of a covenant or pledge between man and woman to enrich this love, to experiment cooperation and accept children and family growth.

In Christianity, God blesses this marriage and is present in it to refresh it. This divine presence that united the male and female is called a sacrament because it expresses a divine will that united both sides. The production of a child from a man and woman without having homogeneity and a complete encounter does not agree with the divine will. Why should we have a replacement for a thing that already exists? For a thing that is beloved in the hearts of couples and that is a source of joy that makes them closer to each other and gives them the motivation to raise and work hard for the family? Marriage as we know it – since the creation of man – is a big human project that civilization committed to and that brought saints. On the other side, cloning is unknown for us: We don’t know whether we will get a human with a straight mind and body. The sheep “Dolly” came with the same cells of her mother, i.e. the cells of a 7 year old. The danger lies if these results were repeated in human cloning.

The other terrible thing, in case people tasted this new method, is to detach sex from birth giving since sexual relation will not be necessary to give birth for your child. Then, cloning lovers will have sexual relations just for the relation itself, it will be isolated from its awaited fruits. This carries huge ethical destruction.

In addition to that, we have what they call “therapeutic cloning” where a cell or a group of cells is taken from a fetus in order to cure a patient. This is also an experiment that doesn’t have fixed results. And the ethical question here is whether it is allowed to manipulate the fetus or not? This experiment implies killing the fetus.

This takes us back to the issue of abortion. In our church, abortion is prohibited because it is killing. The fetus is a human getting ready to appear, and after a known point he will have complete organs. We don’t believe that he gets a soul after a specific period of growth, but that he has a soul from the moment of the encounter between what the man gives with what the woman gives.

Therapeutic cloning is a clear crime as reproductive cloning is. Both are against the system that the creator put to create humans. Life has its sanctity and should not be destroyed through abortion; it is also not allowed to bring life except through the partnership of man and women, i.e. through the result of love.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الاستنساخ دينيا” –Raiati no5- 02.02.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

The Hope for Christian Unity / 26.01.2003

On the 25th of this month, the week of prayer for the unity of Churches ended. Services were held in different places hoping for this unity. Some people might have become tired from the existing barriers between Churches as if they are eternal barriers.

However, what distinguishes this week, as its establishers wanted, is the fact that it invites believers to pray for the unity as God wanted it i.e. without presenting any administrative formula for a possible global Christian meeting. It is obvious that the issue of an administrative formula is the knottiest issue because every main Church suggests its own image for unity. Catholicism cannot see a unity without the global leadership and immaculacy of the pope. Orthodoxy can only understand this unity on the basis of the independence of the Patriarchates among a unity in doctrine and sacraments.

Of course, this isn’t the only issue. There are other differences because the West has defined new doctrines in the Millennium that came after the Great Schism while the East didn’t meet to discuss those doctrines. One of these doctrines is the one related to the Papal status. After the First Vatican Council that was held in 1870, the issue that was simple papal practice, i.e. spreading the global authority of the Bishop of Rome over the Catholic world, became a mandatory doctrine for believers. This has caused a rift.

The question that must be asked is the following: Can we find a new form that keeps the legitimate status of the bishop of Rome and keep at the same time, for the Eastern Churches and other Churches, an independent existence? This would allow them to feel that they coordinate with Rome but remain faithful to what they received from the Apostles and the Holy Fathers.

If we wanted an actual unity that we could live through unity and diversity, we must notice that we cannot melt two Churches in one mold because there exists an Eastern Christianity and a Western one and each of them has its own particularity. We may have learned from the fact that we had different Churches with different characteristics for a whole millennium that there is a big margin of differences that cannot be neglected. The West will not baptize by dipping the person as we do (and in my own opinion this is an important issue. They will also not give communion with leavened bread (and this is also important for me). These are just two symbols for the existence of two different mentalities in the one Christianity.

It is necessary to be attached to the essential things and leave other things for the freedom of the other Church. What is important and what is less important? This is left for discussions and negotiations between Churches.

However, we must know that there are barriers that don’t come from theological ideas but from reluctant hearts. Orthodox people in some countries (Russia and Ukraine for example) are dominated by the idea that Catholicism has greedy intentions towards their countries. This is a crusade complex that makes the Orthodox person believe that the West is still practicing it over him. In addition to that, there are nationalistic rivalries that need some time to be removed. For example we mention the rivalry between the Croats and the Serbs.

In our region, we are liberated from this and we live in an atmosphere full of trust. However, we need a big awareness in order for each of us to understand the reality of the Church of the other. Nevertheless, we notice among people that the Maronite or the Catholic feels happy towards our spiritual revival and also the Orthodox believer feels the same towards the liturgical reform that the Maronites are doing for example. Everyone feels happy towards the theological and spiritual production that is appearing since several years in all Christians.

We have no doubt that as much as we get strengthened through Christ each of us inside his tribe, we would overcome the old fear or arrogance and let the other join our hearts. This would facilitate the intellectual rapprochement among discerning people as we await the Lord let us reach a complete unity through his tenderness.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “رجاء الوحدة المسيحية” –Raiati 4- 26.01.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

The Religion of Cloning / 19.01.2003

Three people are working on human cloning. One of these is Brigitte Boisselier, a French member of the new religion called Raelians whose founder is a man that names himself “Rael” which means “God’s light”. He claims that he saw a humanly creature coming from outside the earth. This creature revealed to Rael that humans are made outside the earth and were sent to it in a period of twenty-five thousand years by “Elohim”, which means God in the Torah.

This man collects donations to build an embassy near “AL-Kuds” (Jerusalem), and if the state of Israel didn’t allow that he would build it in the Palestinian lands. He says that he is “the last prophet” and that he is a half brother of Jesus. However, he added in a program that was shown on the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel that he also believes in Mohammad.

The investigations of the foreign press showed that this man is a fruit of an illegal relationship from a woman named Mary. The press says that he is an Atheist, but he has his own rituals and one of these resembles baptism.

Rael and Boisselier, who joined this group, both believe that cloning is the key to eternal life through transferring the brain into another creature. Of course, this religion believes that cloning bodies results in eternal life although the new brain is affected by the new environment and upbringing and knowing that perfect matching is not possible in living creatures that change constantly.

The followers of this religion state that they put an effort to artificially create a creature that is 100% made in the laboratory.

What did actually happen when Boisselier declared that the child “Eve” was born on December 26th of last year? Was she really born? Where is she? The operation that happened, as they claimed, is for an American sterile woman. They took a cell out of her skin and an ovule; and after letting these meet through electrical operations, the fetus was put in her womb and then she gave birth to the child through a caesarian surgery.  They will make sure scientifically that the child is the woman’s daughter (Why don’t we call her “her sister”?). However, recent news showed that “Clonaid” – the company owned by the Raelians – will not perform a D.N.A. test on the child. The reason they used was the parents being afraid that their daughter might be kidnapped.

If “Bishop” boisselier – as she calls herself – was right, we will face legal and religious questions. And I will speak on behalf of the religious side next week. However, there is a campaign led by officials in France, Germany, the European Union and other countries against this technology. President Chirac Considered this surgery as a crime and people in all places are waiting for laws against human cloning.

In the TV show that I mentioned, where I was present with Rael and Boisselier (they spoke from Canada) and where I mentioned that humans are males and females, Rael responded saying that what they did, exists. So my argument against that was that not everything that exists is permissible. If we believe that scientific research is a good thing, this doesn’t mean that producing everything is allowed. Then I commented saying that the nuclear bomb exists, however its usage is against humanity.

This new religion which is believed to have fifty thousand followers around the world might disappear and not many people will believe that we come from outside the earth. However, human cloning is a very dangerous thing and is the destruction of the humanity that we know.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “ديانة الاستنساخ” –Raiati no3- 19.01.2003

Continue reading
2003, Articles, Raiati

Changing Parish Councils / 05.01.2003

When the Holy Synod legislated the Law of Parish Councils in 1973, the idea was to let lay people participate more and more in the activity by working under the supervision of the priest not only in Church property issues but in youth and educational subjects. It was normal not to leave the priest aside because he who is responsible for your spiritual life is also responsible for other issues but through cooperation with his lay brothers.

The law saw that one third of the council must be changed every two years in order to let the largest possible number participate if they were committed to ecclesiastic life because activity is not limited in Church property but also deals with all our pastoral life. After that we dropped the clause that is related to “the third” but we determined that the reign of the council is for four years. However, the idea of changing the members (not necessarily all members) stayed. This change is based on the fact that the possibility must be found for the rising generations so that we do not underestimate anyone’s youth, and Apostle Paul has talked about that.

The law didn’t mention anything concerning familial representation because the Church is not composed from families but from individuals, and the relationship between the believer and his Church passes through his Baptism and not through his family. The Synod didn’t think about environments in which the familial feeling occupies a great status. However, in this Mount, I have regarded the familial sensibility because it exists in villages. But this standard doesn’t dominate us; the standard that dominates is the standard of piety, ecclesiastic practice and personal maturity.

However, the difficulty that we faced is that some people want to stay in their positions because they think that they are useful for service, and in many situations I do not ignore that. But no one can believe alone that his usefulness for the position continues until his death. Others are also useful and our duty is to invite new people that have a lot of efficiency and they should feel that we are in need for their efficiency as they should also feel that the responsibility in the Council isn’t based on anyone.

The assigning happens once every four years, and it is good in order to embrace all generations to lay off some old people or the whole council according to what suites the local situation. And in the Christian life, the elder is not better than the young man and the young man isn’t better than the elder. But we shouldn’t give the impression that there are indispensable people. The Holy Spirit sends his gifts to whoever he wants, and there is no doubt that all institutions need a renewal of powers and new ideas. It is also obvious that wisdom is not limited in anyone and a short time is required for the new members to be trained for their responsibilities. We have one person that stays in his position and that is the Bishop. While the others are used when they are needed and dispensed when needed because no one has a privilege or a notability on this earth. Our only notability is in the Kingdom of God.

In addition to that, the responsibility of the parish is related to every believer whether he was in the council or not. He can express his opinion which often has an influence whether he was a member in the council or not. It is not acceptable to give the impression that someone’s position is dedicated for him until his death. A lot of times, the active, pure and discerning believer doesn’t feel that he is welcomed and the parish doesn’t feel the necessity to invite this person to take care of issues. The circulation of responsibility is a symbol of the importance of the rising generations.

Changing the members is a very healthy thing and carries hope. We should be trained on the idea that no one is eternal in a position. It is time for you to know that this archdiocese acts with love towards all of you even if it committed a mistake in choosing people. The thing that increases your recognition is the fact that our issues won’t become straight unless the archdiocese tried to use new people that have gifts without denying the gifts found in the existing councils.

We are in an urgent need for change because of our appreciation to the rising generations and we should make them feel that we do not neglect them in managing our local issues. And if perfect trust unites us, there is no more need for any disturbance or sadness. If you were certain that abuse has no place in this archdiocese and that our only pioneer is love, you should accept the new members as you have accepted the old ones. Everything is for construction and for the progress of the Church towards Christ.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “في تغيير مجالس الرعايا” –Raiati 1- 05.01.2003

Continue reading