The Catholic Council of Patriarchs of the Orient held their 17th Congress between the 15th and 19th of October at the summer residence of His Beatitude Gregorius III Lahham Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem for the Melkite Greek Catholics where the Council enjoyed the hospitality of His Beatitude. The Participants are His Eminence Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for Maronites, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia for Armenian Catholics, His Beatitude Msgr. Michel Sabbah, Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins, His Beatitude Antonious Naguib, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholics, His Beatitude Mar Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel Ahad, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Syrian Catholics.
His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX was accompanied by the Eparchy Assistant bishop, His Excellecy Msgr. Hovhannes Tryrouzian and the Patriarchal Vicar of the Partriarchal Clergy Institute of Bzommar Father Mikael Mouradian.
The Presence of Arab Christians in the Arab world amidst the Islamic majority was the central point of discussion of this convention.
The opening ceremony of the convention began with celebration of the Divine Liturgy during which His Beatitude Gregory III gave a speech in which he welcomed their Beatitude the Patriarchs as well as the other guests and announced the subject and the motives of this convention.
During the first session the patriarch fathers addressed a letter to the Holy Pontiff Benedict XVI referring to the importance of the convention and its dimensions, thanking Him for His efforts for peace in the Middle East.
In conformity with practice, the second day of the Congress was consecrated to the meeting of the members of the Council with the Orthodox Church represented by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius, Zakka I Iwas, Kegham Katcherian , Primate Bishop of the Armenian Orthodox Church, H.E. Mor Theophilus George Saliba. Father Paul Matar and Father Maroun Nasr. The discussions dealt with ecumenical issues and the prevailing situation at the heart of the current circumstances on the regional and international levels.
In the final session the Patriarch fathers reexamined the decisions adopted by the Convention and appealed to Christians to be aware of the dangers threatening the Arab World especially Iraq Lebanon and the Holy Land. Furthermore, they decided upon the coming congress which will be held between 24 and 28 November 2008, at the Monastery of Notre Dame of Deliverance (Sharfeh, Lebanon), the seat of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate under the title “I have become all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22).