Patriarch Hazim Passes Away after Suffering Strokeإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim of Antioch and all the East passed away on Wednesday after suffering from a stroke and the day of his funeral has been announced a national mourning day, several media sources announced.
While the National News Agency said that the funeral will be held on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. at the Saint Nicholas Church in Ashrafiyeh, OTV reported that his coffin will be taken to the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus also on Sunday.
Hazim was admitted to the Saint George hospital Tuesday morning after suffering a stroke that affected “his movement ability and consciousness”.
Born in 1921 in Mhardeh in Syria's Hama province, Hazim graduated in philosophy from the American University of Beirut in 1945, and went on to study liturgy in France in 1949.
He was one of the founders of the Orthodox Youth Movement in 1942.
Upon his return to Lebanon, he founded the University of Balamand in northern Lebanon.
He was consecrated as a bishop in 1962, and was elected as the Metropolitan of the Latakia province in Syria in 1970.
Hazim was chosen to become Antioch's 157th patriarch on July 2, 1979.
In March 2012, a year on from the outbreak of a popular revolt against Assad, Hazim was quoted by pro-regime Syrian daily al-Watan as warning against any foreign intervention in Syria, saying it would be bad for "both Christians and Muslims."
The Syrian National Council, one of the country's main opposition coalitions, issued a statement on Wednesday, offering its condolences over the death of Patriarch Hazim.
"He played an exceptional role in national and public life, in Syria and in all countries of the East," said the SNC.
"All Syrians boast that this Church has always been one of the key supporters of public action in Syria... making efforts to consolidate values of freedom, sovereignty and the national unity of the Syrian people," SNC chief George Sabra, himself a Christian, said in the statement.
Hazim died "at a time when the country is steeped in terrible suffering because of the regime's criminal practices, acts of destruction... and the death of tens of thousands" of Syrians, the SNC added.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East is one of 14 autocephalous churches under the Orthodox communion. It counts around a million members, the majority of them Christians in Syria.
The country's 1.8-million-strong Christian community has stayed on the sidelines of the nearly 21-month conflict against the regime of President Bashar Assad.