Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham arrives for the morning session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6, 2015. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Ten Melkite bishops demand patriarch’s resignation, boycott synod

  • June 23, 2016

BEIRUT – The Melkite Catholic Synod of Bishops was cancelled after 10 bishops boycotted, resulting in a lack of quorum.

Only 12 of 22 bishops traveled to Ain Traz, summer seat of the patriarchate. Those who did not attend called for the resignation of Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, who has held his post since 2000. They are protesting the duration of his time as patriarch and some landholdings of the Melkite Church.

In a statement issued June 21 after the synod concluded prematurely, the patriarch cited the bishops' absence as a "case of open rebellion," which he said contradicts the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

He maintained that "the patriarchal seat is considered vacant only (upon) the patriarch's death or renunciation of his office."

"I shall not resign, and I will not give in to illegal and deceptive pressures. I will remain at the service of my Church," the 83-year-old patriarch stated.

He called for the synod to resume, possibly in October.

In his statement to open the assembly, Laham, who was born in Syria, reiterated calls for "all parties to the Syrian dialogue, reconciliation and convergence to develop a quick plan to rescue the country from the devastating tragedy." He said terrorists of different nationalities were entering Syria "in large numbers." 

He also said "if the light of Christianity" is extinguished from the Middle East, "it will also be extinguished from the world." He criticized European leaders "for proclaiming human rights" yet "standing silent today and divided before the crises in the Middle East."

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