Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden met with His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, Head of the Syriac Aramean Church, within the framework of the latter’s official visit to Stockholm. Patriarch Ignatius visited Sweden following an invitation by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. Metropolitan Cleopas was in attendance at two official functions to which Patriarch Ignatius had been invited.
The first event was held on Monday, October 1, 2018 at the hall of the Storkyrka Church, located next to the palace, which was organized by the Lutheran Diocese of Stockholm. At the event, Patriarch Ignatius spoke about the state of the Middle East and the persecution facing Christians in their ancestral home, while stressing the need for Christians of all denominations to band together in protecting religious freedom. He also thanked the Lutheran Church for their longstanding support of his Church.
Metropolitan Cleopas spoke immediately following the Patriarch and expressed his joy over Patriarch Igantius’ visit, while conveying the fraternal greetings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and expressing his support for the persecuted faithful in Syria, calling their persecution an “ongoing genocide.”
He also reminded the audience of Patriarch Bartholomew’s characteristic phrase “a war that is committed in the name of religion is a war against religion.”
Metropolitan Cleopas stated that collaboration between Christian denominations is a necessity, not an option, because only through unity can Christians face the challenges confronting them today.
Meanwhile, he thanked the Lutheran Diocese of Stockholm for their hospitality and used the characteristic expression of the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras “let us behold one another” in order to illustrate the importance of the meeting taking place.
Finally, he thanked Patriarch Ignatius for the dynamic ministry of his two exceptional hierarchs in Sweden, Their Eminences Archbishops Benjamin Atasand Julius Shabo.
Afterwards, Patriarch Ignatius and his entourage attended a luncheon, along with Metropolitan Cleopas, and subsequently were given a tour of Prince Eugene’s museum.
The following day, Tuesday, October 2nd, Patriarch Ignatius served as the keynote speaker at the commencement of the session of the Lutheran Church of Sweden’s Synod at the Cathedral of Uppsala, where he repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the Swedish national Church’s touching show of support to the thousands of Syriac Aramean faithful living in Sweden, as well as the provision of churches to serve their religious needs until they could organize themselves and set up parishes of their own.
Today, the Syriac Aramean Community in Sweden offers a truly impressive array of ministries worthy of emulation.
Prior to the Patriarch’s address, the Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala hosted a luncheon in her residence across from the Cathedral.
The opening session of the assembly was attended by His Majesty King Carl Gustav XVI, together with his daughter, CrownPrincess Victoria.
Metropolitan Cleopas was accompanied to Uppsala by entrepreneur Mr. Aydin Melkemichel, a distinguished member of the Syriac Aramean Cathedral of St. Aphrem in Stockholm.
Metropolitan Cleopas bid Patriarch Ignatius farewell prior to his departure, offering him a commemorative gift on behalf of the clergy of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and assured him that he and his flock would be praying continuously for him in support of his efforts.