Thursday, 22 November 2007 15:32

The Greek Catholic Patriarchate

Greek Catholic Patriarchate

In 1724, the Antioch Patriarchate split into two parts: Melkite Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox. The Orthodox part renounced the title “Melkite”, while the catholic part kept it. A movement of unity with the Holy See spread in all the Arab countries, especially in Lebanon and Syria. This movement extended to the north of Palestine, especially in the Galilee.

The Catholic part had to live underground, and to suffer from oppression due to its communion of faith with Rome. In the Turkish era, the Greek Catholic followed the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. However, the Ottoman Sublime Porte did not recognize them as an independent legitimate body (the right of jurisdiction).

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With the increasing number of the Greek Catholic, they became in 1772 under the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch, who also carried the title “Patriarch of Alexandria". Therefore, the Greek Catholic Patriarch became the Patriarch of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and the entire east.

When talking about the Greek Catholic Church in the Holy Land, we should never forget to mention the Basilian Salvatorian order and the monks and priests of the Savior’s Abbey, who have been working for 300 years. The number of faithful fathers who served the Holy Land in Jerusalem has reached 141 priests including patriarchs and bishops. Palestine has granted “the Salvatorian Congregation” 96 priests.

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Siraj is committed to creating mutual understanding and tolerance between people of different faiths; and the Holy Land is the perfect place to establish common ground. It is, after all, the origin of the world’s three most popular monotheistic religions. Siraj can facilitate meetings with any number of Palestinian and Israeli faith-based groups, arrange shared worship and interfaith seminars, and educate visitors about current inter-faith campaigns for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.
The aim of this program is to educate international visitors—whether students or journalists, authors or activists—about the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by providing safe and secure tours of West Bank conflict zones, facilitating dialogue with people who have been and are directly affected by the conflict, and setting up meetings with prominent peace activists, political officials, and human rights organizations from both sides. Program participants will be able to meet with representatives from B’Tselem, Ittijah, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Temporary International Presence in Hebron, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, The Right of Education Campaign, and The Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People. Participants can also visit various refugee camps and unrecognized villages, and attend lectures and events in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah. 
Let Siraj plan your visit to the Holy Land! In addition to offering guided tours of all key Christian sites--Church of the Nativity, Gethsemane, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the room of the Last Supper, the Sea of Galilee, Mount of the Beatitudes, the Jordan River, and more--the Christian program also includes shared worship with local churches, accommodation and meals with local families, and insightful meetings with grassroots organizations and church leaders.
Theology seminars will be offered three times a year, unless otherwise scheduled by large parties. Topics will include: how to approach the Old Testament from a local Christian perspective, and how religious scripture and theological study can inform peace, human rights, and social justice work. The aim of these seminars is to promote inter-religious dialogue and spiritual growth. In addition to seminars and lectures, we will visit the key sites of Biblical history, get to know local Palestinian families, and meet with various organizations to learn about past and current religious, cultural, and political movements—culminating in a spiritual pilgrimage to remember.
Siraj encourages youth exchange programs with young people from all over the world, to promote personal dialogue that will help them in their future work for peace and justice. The Youth Exchange Program is divided into two sections: high school students and university students. This program fosters face-to-face interaction between youth from all over the world and the youth of Palestine and the Holy Land.
Siraj can arrange short or long term accomodations with caring, hospitable local families, sure to be an enriching experience for both parties. While living in a Palestinian home, you will learn some Arabic (or practice what you already know), enjoy delicious food, tea, and sweets, and have a unique firsthand encounter with the life and culture of Palestine. In addition to sharing yourself and your culture with your host family, you will be helping them economically, since they will be compensated at a fair and reasonable price. The host family option is available for both tour groups and individuals.
This program is for travelers who want a unique and intimate encounter with the geographic landscapes and authentic culture of the Holy Land. From village to village, home to home, desert to desert, shore to boat, you will pass through olive orchards and sheep pastures, ancient ruins and Biblical cities, stopping for lunch in locals’ homes and witnessing traditions that have lasted for thousands of years.