DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s Greek Orthodox Church has enthroned a new patriarch during a ceremonial mass in Damascus amid civil war.
John Yazigi, 57, replaces Ignatius Hazim as the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox. Hazim died in December.
The church has over a million adherents in Syria and neighboring Lebanon.
Among dignitaries attending Sunday’s ceremony marking the enthronement of Yazigi as the new patriarch was the head of the Maronite Catholic church, Cardinal Bechara al-Rai from Lebanon.
His trip to Damascus is historical since it is the first by the leader of the Maronite church in decades. The Maronite Church was an outspoken critic of Syria’s three-decade domination and military presence in Lebanon.