Patriarch of Syrian-Catholics resigns, Benedict XVI appoints committee in his place

His Beatitude Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel-Ahad
His Beatitude Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel-Ahad

.- Pope Benedict XVI has decided to accept the resignation of the Patriarch of Syrian-Catholics and in a letter to him, explains that he will temporarily entrust the patriarch’s position to a committee of bishops.

In his letter to His Beatitude Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel-Ahad, the patriarch of Antioch of the Syrian Catholics, the Pope refers to another letter, which the patriarch sent him explaining the reasons for his decision. He notes that he presented his resignation from the office of patriarch “following a period of reflection and prolonged prayer before the Lord".

"I very much appreciate", the Holy Father goes on, "this gesture of ecclesial love, motivated above all by your concern for the spiritual progress of the faithful and for harmony among bishops, and in which I perceive an admirable confirmation of your apostolic zeal".

Having reflected deeply and having listened to the views of your collaborators, the Pope writes, "I felt it my duty to accept your resignation for the noble pastoral reasons that motivated it".

The Pope also explained his reasons for deciding to have a committee of bishops take over the patriarch’s position until a successor can be found.

"I wish to inform you that having given the matter careful attention - and consenting to certain requests of the extraordinary Synod which met in the Vatican from 26 to 28 April 2007 - I have decided that the government of the Syrian-Catholic Church should be entrusted for an appropriate period of time, until the election of your successor, to an episcopal committee composed of three members: Archbishop Theophile Georges Kassab of Homs, Hama and Nabk of the Syrians, who will also administer the patriarchal eparchy; Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka of Baghdad of the Syrians; and Archbishop Gregorios Elias Tabe of Damascus of the Syrians. The patriarchate will be presided by each of the three members in turn".

The Holy Father concludes his letter by expressing the certainty that His Beatitude "will continue to offer the precious gift of prayer, wise counsel and the sacrifice of heart, as well as the trials and the joys that Divine Providence does not fail to dispense to good pastors".

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