February 27, 2001
volume 12, no. 58

New Syriac Patriarch of Antioch Elected

Will Greet John Paul II During His Visit to Syria

    VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has sent his congratulations to His Beatitude Ignace Pierre VIII, the newly elected Syriac patriarch of Antioch.

    The patriarch had informed the Pope of the former's election Feb. 16 by the bishops' synod of the Syriac-Catholic Church.

    The new patriarch is replacing His Beatitude Ignace Moussa I Daoud, recently made a cardinal, who quit his patriarchal post following his appointment as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

    The new patriarch will greet John Paul II when he goes to Syria on pilgrimage in May. On this same trip, the Pontiff might visit Malta and Athens, Greece, following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.

    Ignace Pierre VIII (Pierre Abdel-Ahad) was born in Aleppo, Syria, on June 28, 1930. After studying in the Syriac-Catholic Patriarchal Seminary of Jerusalem, he completed his studies in the major seminary of Charfet, Lebanon. He has been a priest since 1954, and worked for many years in the minor seminary of Charfet. Later, he was appointed parish priest in Bethlehem.

    During the Middle East wars of 1967 and 1973, he was involved in the humanitarian assistance and pastoral care of prisoners. In 1979, he was appointed patriarchal vicar, that is, exarch of Jerusalem.

    He established a house for pilgrims in Bethlehem, and the Church of St. Thomas of Jerusalem, which has a youth center. Elected bishop by the Syriac-Catholic synod on June 29, 1996, he has kept the post of patriarchal exarch of Jerusalem.

    As is traditional in this Church, the new patriarch took the name Ignace, in honor of his predecessor, St. Ignatius of Antioch. ZE01022504

    We have also gleaned some background on Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud from the Syriac Catholic site. Cardinal Daoud has stepped down as Patriarch in order to accept the Papal appointment as the new President of the Pontifical Council for Oriental Churches.

    Cardinal Daoud was born on September 18, 1930 in Maskane, a village near Homs, Syria. He has two brothers and three sisters all married. His mother, Kahla Elias Dabbas is still alive and his father Daoud Moussa Daoud passed away a few years ago.

    He attended his primary studies under the supervision of Rev. Hanna Makdissi. In December 1941, he entered the seminary of St. Ephrem-St. Benoit in Jerusalem run by the French Fathers Benedictine, he continued his complimentary and secondary studies at the same seminary.

    In 1948, following the war between the Palestinian war between Jews and Arabs, the seminary was transferred to the Convent of Charfet, Lebanon. He completed his philosophy and theology studies at the same seminary from the year 1949 until the year 1955.

    He was ordained priest on October 17, 1954 by the late Cardinal Patriarch Igance Gabriel I Tappouni at the St. Georges Cathedral for the Syriac Catholics in Beirut with seven of his priest colleagues, and amongst them five have been ordained bishops.

    He returned to his diocese of origin in Homs in 1955 and had the following responsibilities: Professor of Catechism at St. Joseph School, Vicar parish priest, principal of the school and parish priest, secretary to the Archbishop and thereafter episcopal vicar general.

    In 1962 he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law at the University of Latran and obtained his Masters in 1964. In 1970, His Beatitude, Mar Igance Antoine II Hayek appointed him Patriarchal Secretary General, he held this position for seven consecutive years.

    He was elected bishop for the diocese of Cairo at the Patriarchal Synod in 1977. His consecration took place at our Lady of Deliverance Church in Charfet, Lebanon. He was enthroned in Cairo at the Church of St. Catherine on 7 October 1977.

    He served the diocese of Cairo for seventeen years and accomplished the following:

  • Construction of a cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, Cairo.
  • Construction of a parochial center at Heliopolis.
  • Construction of a new wing to the school of St. Michel in Cairo.
  • Construction of a poly clinic "Sittina Mariam."

        He gave conferences and spiritual retreats. He taught Cannon Law at "Al Maadi" Seminary for the Catholic Copts and at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology of Sakakini (Cairo).

        At the Patriarchal Synod in 1994, he was transferred from the diocese of Cairo to the diocese of Homs, Syria. He was enthronement at Our Lady of Deliverance Church at Zeidal, Homs on September 18, 1994.

        He was nominated Consultant for the Commission for the revision of Cannon Law and remained such for 15 years, thereafter he became member of the same commission for five years.

        He presides on the Commission of translation of Latin and Arabic Cannon Law for Oriental Churches in Cairo. A few years he was elected member of the congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome. In 1995 he was nominated permanent member of the Synod and member of the Superior Court of Judicial Affairs for the Syriac Catholic Church. In 1977 he was nominated President of the community Beneficiary Commission (Syria) by the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Syria.

        At the Patriarchal Synod of 1998, he was elected Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church on 13 October. His enthronement took place on 25 October 1998 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Annunciation, Beirut.

        This year, he resigned his position as Patriarch to accept the Pope's appointment as head of the Oriental Churches.

    February 27, 2001
    volume 12, no. 58
    News from the Universal Church
    Return to Today's Issue