Maximos IV Sayegh

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Greek Catholic patriarch, cardinal; b. Alep (Syria), April 10, 1878: d. Beirut, Nov. 5, 1967. Maximos studied first at the Episcopal College, then at the College de Terre Sainte des Pères Franciscains in his native town. In 1893, he entered into Seminaire Sainte-Anne de Jerusalem, directed by the White Fathers. There he completed his secondary education and philosophical and theological studies. After three years of professorship at the same seminary, he joined the young Society of Missionaries of St. Paul. He was ordained a priest on Sept. 17, 1905. In 1912, he became superior of the Missionary Society and kept this position until 1919. During this time he also directed Al-Macarrat, the magazine of the Greek Catholic patriarchate.

On Aug. 31, 1919, Maximos IV was consecrated metropolitan of Tyre, in Lebanon. The beginnings of his episcopacy were marked by political troubles, violence, and dangers of massacre. In 1921, he paid a long visit to the United States to organize the ministry for Greek Catholic emigrants from Syria and Lebanon. On Aug. 30, 1933 he was transferred to the See of Beirut, Lebanon. A new period of religious struggles then began. In 1936 he founded the Congregation of the Religious Missionaries of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He played a major role in the nationalist movement that resulted in the recognition of the full independence of Lebanon in 1943.

At the death of Patriarch Cyrille IX, Maximos IV was elected patriarch of the Greek Catholic Church (Oct. 30, 1947). At least once a year he summoned all his episcopacy to a synod that lasted an entire week. Credit for the founding of a Community Parish Chest is given to Maximos IV, opening mutual diocesan aid designed to help financially deprived dioceses. His liturgical commission worked for 20 years revising and editing liturgical books. He opened his community to new religious institutes of the West. He gave particular attention to emigrants from his jurisdiction, obtaining for them the installations of Eastern hierarchies of their rite in Brazil and in the United States.

Ardent apostle of ecumenicism, he did not spare any effort to create in the Catholic church the psychological and theological atmosphere and indispensable discipline for the reconciliation of the churches, at the same time safeguarding the rights of the Eastern Catholic churches and defending the patriarchal prerogatives. In 1964 he visited Patriarch Athenagoras in Istanbul, and he established cordial relations with the churches of Constantinople, Canterbury, and Etchmiadzin. The Second Vatican Council, where he played a major role, was the supreme effort of his life. His books include, Voice of the Church in the East, published in 1962 and translated into several languages, and The Greek Catholic Church at the Council (1967), which contained the actions, notes, and reports of the patriarch and the prelates of his church at Vatican II.

In Feb. 1965 Pope Paul VI made Maximos IV a cardinal. His last days were clouded by the Israeli-Arab war of June 1967, and the seizure by the Syrian government of the Catholic schools.

Bibliography: maximos iv, Voix de l'Eglise en Orient (Bâle 1962) translated into several languages; L'Eglise grecque melkite au Concile, ed. d. al-kalima (Beirut 1967). i. dick, Quest-ce que l'Orient chrétien? (Tournai 1965). j. hajjar, Les Chrétiens uniates du Proche-Orient (Paris 1962). g. zananiri, Le christianisme oriental (Paris 1966). e. inglessis, Maximos IV: L'Orient conteste l'Occident (Paris 1969). n. edelby, Les Eglises orientales catholiques (Paris 1970) Coll. "Unam Sanctam."

[n. edelby]

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Maximos IV Sayegh

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