From Byzantine Ramblings comes the sad news of the falling asleep in Christ of a major voice for Orthodox-Catholic unity in our time, the Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Zoghby:
His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III, the Bishops of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church, His Grace, Elias Rahal, Archbishop of Baalbeck, the Clergy and Faithful of the Eparchy of Baalbeck, His Grace, Bishop Youssef Joel Zraiy, Patriarchal Vicar of Egypt and Sudan, the Clergy and Faithful of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Zoghby Family and their relatives here and abroad, regret to inform you of the passing to the Lord of His Grace, Archbishop Elias Zoghby, on Wednesday, 16 January 2008.
Archbishop Zoghby was Dean of the Holy Synod of Melkite Bishops, Patriarchal Vicar Emeritus of Egypt and Sudan, and Archbishop Emeritus of Baalbeck.
Archbishop Zoghby’s Funeral will take place at St. Paul Basilica in Harissa, on Saturday, 19 January 2008, at 3:00 P.M. Sympathies will be accepted before and after the funeral service at St. Paul Convent in Harissa and on Sunday, 20 January 2008 at the Patriarchal Residence in Rabweh from 11:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M.
Archbishop was perhaps most famous for his controversial proposal known as the “Zoghby Initiative”, approved by the Melkite Holy Synod in 1995 (and politely rejected by the CDF under the presidency of Cardinal Ratzinger):
- I believe everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches.
- I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome as the first among the bishops, according to the limits recognized by the Holy Fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation.
Archbishop Elias was a prolific writer on the topic of Orthodox-Catholic relations, including his 1996 book Tous Schismatiques? (“Are We All Schismatics?”, printed in English under the slighly mistranslated title “We Are All Schismatics”). Two of his essays have been featured here: “The Desire for Christian Unity” and “Christian Unity Involves the Whole Church”. Eastern Christian Publications carries a small book of his entitled Ecumenical Reflections, as well as a biography of Archbishop Elias by Suzane Aboueid.
No matter what one thinks of his Initiative and ideas about Christian unity, I hope we can all join in prayer for the repose of his soul and that his memory may be eternal. O Christ God, with the Saints grant rest to the soul of your High Priest Elias in a place where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing, but everlasting life.