His Beatitude

3 months ago Justin Diaz Comments Off on His Beatitude

The present Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude, Ignatius IV (Hazim) is the one hundred and seventieth Patriarch after Saint Peter.

He was born in 1921 in the village of Mhardey near Hama in Syria. He is the son of a pious Arab Orthodox family and from an early age was attracted to service within the Church. Whilst studying in Beirut, Lebanon, for a literature degree, he entered the service of the local Orthodox diocese, first by becoming an altar server, then a deacon.

In 1945 he went to Paris where he graduated from the Saint Sergius Theological Institute. From his time in France onwards he has been moved not only by a desire to pass on the deposit of the Faith, but also to take Orthodoxy out of its unhistorical ghetto by discovering in its Holy Tradition living answers to the problems of modern life. On his return to the Middle East, he founded the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Balamand, Lebanon which he then served for many years as Dean. As Dean he sought to provide the Patriarchate with responsible leaders who had received a good spiritual and intellectual training and who were witnesses to an awakened and deeply personal faith.

He became bishop in 1961 and Metropolitan of Lattaquiey in Syria in 1970. The new Metropolitan was a reserved but friendly man, who manifested a deep and courageous straightforwardness. He was simple, direct, and down to earth. His style broke with the former tradition of episcopal grandeur and he inaugurated an authentic practice of frequent Communion. On 2 July 1979, under the name of Ignatius lV, he became the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, the third ranking hierarch of the Orthodox Church after the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria. After his election as Patriarch he said:

“I know that I will be judged if I do not carry the Church and each one of you in my heart. It is not possible for me to address you as if I were different from you. No difference separates us. I am an integral part of you; I am in you and I ask you to be in me. For the Lord comes, and the Spirit descends on the brothers gathered, united in communion, as they manifest a diversity of charisms in the unity of the Spirit.

As Patriarch he has given a new dynamism to the Holy Synod and seen it name Bishops who are close to the people and who are motivated to develop the Church’s ecclesial and spiritual life, detached from political factions. Above all, the Patriarch has sought and still seeks pastors who are as dedicated to their spiritual calling as he is himself.