WCC gives thanks for the life and witness of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka
World Council of Churches remembers the life of a great Middle Eastern ecumenical leader
The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed “deep sorrow” over the death of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, supreme spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East.
An eminent ecumenical leader and a former WCC president from 1998 to 2006, Ignatius passed away on 21 March in Kiel, Germany, at the age of 81.
“Many in the leadership of the World Council of Churches had the privilege of working closely with Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas throughout the many years of his association and involvement in the ecumenical movement,” Tveit said in a letter to the Syrian Orthodox Church worldwide, issued on 21 March.
Tveit went on to say that many recall Ignatius’ “caring love for all, his genuine hospitality and his kind, encouraging words in all circumstances.”
“We are indebted to him for the contributions he has made over the years and the significant leadership he has demonstrated in the course of his long years of service,” he added.
As a metropolitan of his church, Ignatius participated in several WCC meetings. He represented his church as an observer to Second Vatican Council.
In his tribute to Ignatius, Tveit remembered his “contribution to the dialogue of his church with Rome, which resulted in important Christological agreements, helping to overcome theological confusions and misunderstandings which had divided Christians for centuries.”
“We thank God for the life and witness of Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his church, his beloved spiritual sons and daughters.”
“May his memory remain eternal in our Lord’s mind, and in the heart of all who knew and loved him,” Tveit concluded.