Third meeting of the PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum

Third meeting of the PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum
Aleppo, July 1-2, 2008 / Communiqué
The Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo hosted the third meeting of the PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum, July 1-2, 2008. The PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum is

a team of expert scholars in Syriac Studies, who commit themselves to promote the Syriac heritage, mutual enrichment and better understanding within their Churches. It advises and consults the PRO ORIENTE Foundation (Vienna, Austria) to develop appropriate studies and helps to coordinate the research projects.The members of the PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum evaluated the First PRO ORIENTE Colloquium Syriacum. This academic conference was held in Salzburg (Austria), November 14-16, 2007, on the general theme: “Syriac Churches encountering Islam: Past Experiences and Future Perspectives.” The proceedings of this Colloquium are being prepared for publication in a new series called “PRO ORIENTE Studies of the Syriac Tradition”.
The participants also exchanged information concerning current events in the Churches of Syriac tradition in the Middle East and in India. They emphasized the importance of continuing both the dialogue among the Churches and the Christian-Muslim dialogue. Both dialogues will strengthen the presence, the service, and the witness of Syriac Christians in the Middle East and around the world.

The PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum planned and organized its next academic conference, the Second PRO ORIENTE Colloquium Syriacum, on the general theme “Syriac Christianity in the Middle East and India Today: Contributions and Challenges.” In the first part, the speakers will analyze the contributions of the Syriac Christian communities to their societies in the cultural, social and educational fields, in the contexts of India, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. In the second part, the main challenges that the Syrian Christian communities face today will be considered under the aspects of religious freedom, education and personal status. Special attention will be given to the vital question of emigration. This Second PRO ORIENTE Colloquium Syriacum is planned to take place in Vienna (Austria), 4-6 November 2009.

On Tuesday July 1, the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, H. E. Mgr Antoine Chahda, invited the participants for dinner, together with the representatives of the various Churches in Aleppo. On Wednesday July 2, H. E. Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim offered the members of the PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum a much appreciated excursion to the historical places of the monastery of Deir Tell-Ada, Qalaat Samaan (the Cathedral of St Simeon the Stylite) and Mushabbak church. In the evening of the same day, His Emminence invited several religious and civil authorities to meet the members of the PRO ORIENTE Forum Syriacum. The presence of the Grand Mufti of Syria, Al-Sheikh Dr Ahmad Bader Al-Din Hassoun, was particularly appreciated.

At the closing session of the meeting, the President of PRO ORIENTE, Dr Johann Marte, thanked H.E. Metropolitan Mor Gregorios for his cordial and generous hospitality and expressed his heartfelt appreciation to all his collaborators who helped to create a pleasant stay and working atmosphere.

List of Participants:
Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syria
Metropolitan Joseph Powathil, India
Archbishop Paul Matar, Lebanon
Archdeacon Koshaba George, Great Britain
Father Baby Varghese, India
Father Frans Bouwen, Jerusalem
Dr Aho Shemunkasho, Austria
Dr Johann Marte, President of PRO ORIENTE
Marion Wittine, Secretary General of PRO ORIENTE
Prof Dietmar W. Winkler, Research Director of the PRO ORIENTE Syriac Studies
Mgr Johan Bonny, Vatican (observer)

Metropolitan Aprem G. Mooken, India
Metropolitan Kuriakose Theophilose, India
Metropolitan Louis Sako, Iraq
Archbishop Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, Italy
Bishob Bawai Soro, USA
Father Geevarghese Chediath, India