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Melkite synod postponed; Patriarch decries bishops' 'open rebellion'

June 22, 2016

A synod of the Melkite Catholic Church has been postponed, after half of the Melkite bishops boycotted the meeting in a bid to force the resignation of Patriarch Gregory III Laham.

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"I shall not resign," Patriarch Gregory declared, denouncing the boycott.

Archbishop Cyrille Bustos of Beirut has led a movement pushing for the Patriarch's resignation, saying that his leadership has weakened the Melkite Church. Archbishop Bustos and ten other prelates refused to attend this week's synod meeting, which was held in Lebanon. Without them, the meeting lacked a quorum, so the synod was postponed.

Archbishop Bustos and his allies had written to the Vatican Congregation for the Eastern Churches, urging the removal of Patriarch Gregory. But the Vatican replied that the matter should be handled by the Melkite hierarchy, acting in synod. 

Patriarch Gregory said that the bishops' failure to attend the synod was "an act of open ecclesiastical rebellion against patriachal authority and that of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, as well as against a clear provision of canon law." He pointed out that there is no provision in the Eastern canonical code for the removal of a patriarch, except by his death or his voluntary resignation. 

The Patriarch asked all Melkite bishops to attend a synod meeting in October, at which he called for a "respectful, frank, and transparent debate."


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