Ignatius Hazim, patriarch of a Damascus-based Eastern Orthodox Church, dies at 92


The Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, shakes hands with the patriarch of a Damascus-based Eastern Orthodox Church Ignatius Hazim, 92. Ignatius died Dec. 5 in Beirut. (Bassem Tellawi/AP)
December 5, 2012

Ignatius Hazim, the patriarch of a Damascus-based Eastern Orthodox Church, died Dec. 5 in a Beirut hospital after a stroke. He was 92.

Syria’s state-run news agency Sana reported the death.

Mr. Hazim was named Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox in 1979. His church is known as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Antioch.

There are a number of mostly autonomous Eastern Orthodox churches in the Middle East, and the region also has more than a half-dozen patriarchs, including the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of world’s Orthodox Christians.

Habib Hazim was born April 4, 1920, in the Syrian town of Maharda in the central province of Hama. He moved from Syria to Beirut in 1936, where he later became a priest. He studied in France, and after his return to Lebanon he co-founded the Orthodox Youth Movement in Syria and Lebanon in 1942.

A year after he was named Bishop for Palmyra and deputy Patriarch of Antioch in 1961, he was sent to the Balamand Monastery, where he became president and dean of the Theology Faculty.

In 1982, the institution was transformed into an Orthodox Christian Church-funded university, the first in the Middle East. It is known as University of Balamand.

Hazim published a number of books on theology. He was appointed Bishop for Lattakia in 1979 and was elected patriarch nine years later.