Christians, Muslims, and people with other theologies or having no faith have all been affected by the violence in Syria, but the Antioch Orthodox Church springs from Syria, with its headquarters in Damascus.
Patriarch John X is leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, which are connected to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, its Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, and St. Elias Orthodox Church in Sylvania and St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Toledo.
John X is still active in his ministry in Syria, according to a Facebook posting on the patriarchate page.
“I say to all the Syrians and to all the world: Syria is a gift from God so let us keep and protect her carefully," John X said while speaking Sunday at a monastery 17 miles north of Damascus.
“Syria was not created to be baptized with the blood of her sons but to baptize all the world with the strength of peace which prevailed in her land and with the ink of the alphabet which started here.
“Syria did not exist to cover, with her sand, the bodies of her fighting sons but to cover the world with the brightness of light which came out from its borders to proclaim to the whole world a strength of culture and a splendor of history.”
In a pastoral letter dated Aug. 6, John X wrote that the Holy Antiochian Synod has set Sept. 15 as a day of solidarity for all Antiochian parishes to support humanitarian and relief work.
“There’s not a whole lot of information specifically about what the patriarch’s activities are, or anything like that,” the Rev. Ignatius Warren of St. Elias said.
Father Warren said that many Christians have been evacuated, and that “much of the targeting has been specifically toward the Christians and the churches in those regions” where Syrians are fighting, and evacuees have gone to Lebanon and Cyprus.
Prominent Muslim clergy members have also died in attacks in Syria, he said.