“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1.3)
We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, send our Easter Greetings and Blessings to all people everywhere in the name of our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In the face of so much that threatens to devalue or diminish human life, the hope that springs from the Resurrection is rooted here in Jerusalem. The message of Easter has shaped the very identity of this Holy City over many centuries. Here is located the site of the Empty Tomb, the place where God’s sovereignty over death and the powers of darkness was manifested in the raising of Jesus from the dead. As a consequence of this reality, the location where the Resurrection took place is not merely an object of archaeological curiosity but remains a living focus of Christian worship. It is a place where God’s grace has been manifested in numerous ways down the centuries and for that reason alone it deserves respect.
Along with all people of good will, we are deeply distressed by the level of violence still being falsely perpetrated in the name of religion in parts of the Middle East and elsewhere in recent times. Members of some of the ancient Christian communities in this region – especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria – have been among those most directly affected, along with other minority populations. There is no true religion which advocates violation of the human person or the victimization of minority groups in society and we condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms. Those who engage in such barbaric behaviour dehumanize not only their victims, but themselves.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we urge people everywhere not to fall into despair. The very existence of this city of Jerusalem is paradoxically a sign of hope that God’s kingdom of peace, love and justice will prevail. There are indeed signs of darkness around us which make this a painful time to live through, but the darkest part of the night is often shortly before the dawn. The joyful proclamation of the Resurrection at dawn on Easter Sunday assures us that the last word lies not with violence and inhumanity but with God’s purpose of love, justice and hope which runs like a thread throughout history and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the coming fullness of his Kingdom.
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
+Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
+Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Aba Embakob, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+Msgr. Georges Dankaye’, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
It is into this world that the message of the Church at Easter remains constant over the centuries, proclaiming in the midst of hopelessness the hope of Christ, triumphant beyond death and the powers of evil; living and life giving amongst us.
In this resurrection faith we follow the saints and martyrs throughout the ages who have proclaimed the Risen Christ as their Lord and Saviour, who believe that in Christ there is abundant life and that death and suffering will not have the final say. The Easter faith strengthens us with the hope in life, here and now and in the world to come.
This hope is not an illusion, which turns out to be empty; rather, it is the tested cantus firmus over the ages for all Christians. Beyond human imagination, the power of the resurrection overcomes disparate, conflict-laden and destructive forces. We are called to proclaim God’s Good News in confidence and obedience to Christ to bring healing and reconciliation.
Christ’s resurrection, therefore, also compels us to ever closer bonds of Christian fellowship with one another – the saints in the here and now - to seek greater unity and work together with Christ, as his Body, in the newness of life already begun by him.
It is in this spirit that I greet you with this letter.
I will continue to pray that the hope and joy of the resurrected Christ will deeply move our hearts and souls, that it will heal relationships between individuals, communities and nations, and that it will banish fear, overcome suffering, broker peace and bring reconciliation.
I close with the Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:78): “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
I embrace you with brotherly love in the Risen Christ,
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
BELGRADE – Serbian Patriarch Irinej Friday sent happy Easter wishes to the leaders of all Christian churches who celebrate “the most joyous Christian holiday” on the Western Christian date for Easter Sunday. According to a release from the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej wished a happy Easter to Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Evangelical Bishop of Bavaria Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and dignitaries of other Protestant churches around the world.
Patriarch Irinej wished a most happy Easter to dignitaries and believers of traditional churches and religious communities in Serbia, including the Roman Catholic Church, Slovak Evangelical Church, Reformed Christian Church and Evangelical Methodist Church in Serbia.
The Serbian Patriarch also sent Easter greetings to ecumenical and denominational bodies and organizations – the World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches and other ecumenical bodies and organizations.