Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East

Archbishop Lufti Laham Elected Patriarch of Antioch

From Serge Keleher:

Beiurit - Today, 29 November 2000, the Holy Synod meeting in Damascus elected Archbishop Lufti Laham, hitherto Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, to the apostolic throne of the Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East. It is not yet known what name the new Patriarch will select. God grant His Holiness many blessed years!

Archbishop Lutfi Laham was born near Damascus, Syria in 1933 at the village of Daraya known as the place of the conversion of St. Paul. He entered the seminary of the Salvatorian Fathers at Joun, Lebanon in 1943 and pronounced his final vows in 1954. He later continued his studies in Rome. Ordained a priest in 1959, he earned a doctorate in Oriental theology in Rome and returned to Lebanon in 1961. He was superior of the major seminary of the Salvatorian Order from 1961 to 1964 and where taught theology, Greek and French both at the major seminary and as professor of the University of the Holy Spirit at Kaslik, Lebanon.

In 1962, he founded the journal Unity in the Faith, an ecumenical and eastern review in Arabic. He established two social action centers: Le Foyer de la jeune fille with many sites in the various villages of South Lebanon and in collaboration with Fathers George Kwaiter and Salim Ghazal, he established Le Foyer de la Providence in Salhieh just East of Saida.

In 1974, during the absence of Archbishop Capucci, he functioned as Administrator then Patriarchal Vicar at Jerusalem where he completed several projects including the restoration of the Patriarchal residence and the renovation of the cathedral in Jerusalem.

He was consecrated a bishop in 1981 at Damascus by Patriarch Maximos V assisted by Archbishops Saba Youakim and Francois Abou Mokh.

Under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches the new Patriarch assumes office upon the election and is enthroned at once. He sends a formal notification of the election to the Pope and the other Patriarchs, requesting ecclesiastical communion.

The new patriarch has chosen the name Gregory III and replaces His Beatitude Patriarch Maximos V Hakim who offered his resignation to the Melkite Synod on October 17th and which was accepted by the Synod on November 22nd.


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