A radical Jabhat al-Nusra "opposition" group, which occupied the small Christian town of Ma'loula in Syria in the last months of 2013, desecrated absolutely all shrines of the town, reports al Hadas portal with the reference to materials of the al Akhbar Lebanese newspaper.
According to evidence of eyewitnesses who fled from Ma'loula during the latest warfare in the region, members of al Nusra tried to change the religious and architectural-historical look of the ancient Christian town entirely: completely destroying some churches, the militants brought down all bells from other ones. The fate of two other world-famous monuments of Ma'loula was no less tragic: extremists blew up the statue of Christ the Savior, which had stood at the entrance of St. Thecla Convent, as well as the statue of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, which had stood close to the Safir hotel, the latter of which served as the main shelter for Takfirists for many months.
On January 14, 2014, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and on the invitation of Archbishop Anthony, Metropolitan of Mexico, Central America, Venezuela and the Caribbean Islands (Patriarch of Antioch), Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, arrived in Mexico. At Benito Juarez international airport he was met by Archbishop Justinian, administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate’s parishes in the USA, Bishop Alexis of Mexico (Orthodox Church in America), Russian ambassador E. Malayan, clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Mexico and the USA and Russian diplomats in Mexico City.
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East presided over the Divine Liturgy of the feast of Theophany, at the Holy Cross Church. His Beatitude was accompanied by the Patriarchal Vicar, His Grace Bishop Efraim (Malouli), and Their Graces, Bishops Moussa Khoury, Nicholas Baalbaki, along with several priests and deacons.
Almost three years after the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, which has claimed the lives of at least 130,000 of our fellow men and has caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has issued the following declaration :
“We appeal on every organization and agency, on all those in power on earth, to face up to their historical responsibilities to mankind, even at this ultimate moment, and to put an end to this inhuman and absurd ‘theatre of death’ which has been unfolding in Syria since 2011.
His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East presided over the solemn Divine Liturgy of the new year day in the Mariamite Church in Damascus. Accompanied with the prayers of the faithful who attended the Liturgy and the supplication of those who watched it through the Media,
On 12 January 2014, the advanced courses for bishops and other representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Central Asian metropolitan region were completed. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the advanced courses were organized by the Ss Syril and Methodius Theological Institute for Post-Graduate Studies in cooperation with the Central Asian metropolitan region.