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    WCC general secretary pays tribute to Patriarch Ignatius IV

    10 December 2012

    The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit attended the funeral of Patriarch Ignatius IV (Hazim) in Beirut, on 9 December.

    Tveit paid a befitting tribute to the patriarch, calling him “a beloved church leader” recognizing 33 years of his immense contributions to the ecumenical movement and Christian Muslim dialogue.

    Patriarch Ignatius of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East passed away on 5 December in Lebanon, at age 92.

    Patriarch Ignatius' funeral took place at the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut.

    “We have honoured a beloved church leader for the Orthodox family, a significant ecumenist, a great religious leader in the Middle East. I was received as a friend when we met last year, and I kept this memory as a costly treasure. May God bless the seeds of his legacy,” said Tveit.

    The service was presided by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I. Among other attendees included Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus and Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and Durres, bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and representatives of the Orthodox churches worldwide.

    The funeral service was also attended by Catholicos Aram I, head of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Maronite Patriarch Bishara al-Rai, together with Eastern Orthodox bishops, Oriental Catholic patriarchs and leaders of Protestant churches.

    The Lebanese government announced 9 December as an official day of mourning.

    The Lebanese president Michel Sleiman and prime minister Najib Mikati were also present at the funeral service of Patriarch Ignatius.

    At the ceremony, the Lebanese president praised the late Patriarch Ignatius for his moderation and wisdom, and awarded him the National Order of the Cedar.

    Many officials who offered their condolences to the Antiochian Orthodox community also described the patriarch as a man of moderation.

    Metropolitan Saba Esper was appointed as interim patriarch on 7 December, whose main task will be to organize the election of a new patriarch.

    Immediately after the funeral service, Patriarch Ignatius' body was taken to be buried at the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus, Syria.

    WCC mourns the death of Patriarch Ignatius IV (WCC press release of 6 December 2012)

    Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East