Melkite Archbishop Visits Canada
26 Oct 2011 by Deborah Gyapong
OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — Years ago, Melkite
Archbishop Elias Chacour flew to Washington, D.C., to
make an unannounced visit to the home of then-Secretary
of State James Baker.
The archbishop of Haifa, Israel, was having
trouble getting a government-issued building permit to
expand a school, a problem that had repeated itself many
times over the years as he built schools and summer
camps for impoverished Christian and Muslim villagers.
To his surprise, Bakers wife, Susan, answered the
door because she was expecting a group of women for a
Bible study, Archbishop Chacour told an Oct. 21
conference on The Future of Christianity in the Middle
She invited him into the kitchen for a glass of iced
tea, explained her husband was not at home and added she
was about to start a discussion of the Eight Beatitudes
with the 20 ladies in her living room.
She ended up inviting the archbishop to lead the
Bible study for her, the archbishop recalled. He spent the
next two hours explaining the beatitudes to the women,
noting they are about following Jesus to the cross, not
be-happy attitudes as some described them. He said he also told the women to convince their husbands to get their fingers dirty in the work of building peace and justice in the Middle East.
That unannounced visit led to a friendship
between the Bakers and the archbishop that not only got
Archbishop Chacour the building permit he sought, but
also eventually brought the Bakers to visit his archdiocese
as an act of solidarity.
Are you ready when you visit the Holy Land to
make that act of solidarity? he asked the audience at St.
Paul Universitys Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky
Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, which co-sponsored
the conference with the Catholic Near East Welfare
Archbishop Chacour said anyone expecting him
to be for or against Palestinians or Jews will be
A renowned peace-builder, the archbishop
described himself as a Palestinian, an Arab, a Christian
and an Israeli citizen who is proud of each one of his
But he said Christians all over the Holy Land are
seeking to leave and find opportunities elsewhere. He
urged visitors to get out of the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher — a prominent pilgrimage spot in Jerusalem —
and go to Galilee to understand Jesus as a man of the
resurrection and to listen, console and provide
companionship to Christians there.
He also stressed that the Christian communities
originally grew in the region because of the love they
showed, not the weapons they used.
I am not here to beg for money, Archbishop
Chacour said. Im here to beg you to give me your
friendship and solidarity.
He urged people to stand with the Jews in
friendship but not to be against the Palestinians.
We have been labeled a nation of terrorists, he
said. We have been a nation terrorized for over 70
Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Canada Middle East Peace Process Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour