Euthymius III Karmah

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His Beatitude Euthymius III Karmah, also Abdel-Karim Meletios Euthymius III Karmah, was Patriarch of Antioch of the Church of Antioch from 1634 to 1635. He was a leading figure in the Church and metropolitan of Aleppo before his election as patriarch. He favored union with the Roman Catholic Church.


Abdel-Karim Karmah was born in 1572 in Hama, Syria, son of a priest. He entered the monastery of St. Michel, a monastery associated with Mar Saba Monastery in Jerusalem, when he was in his twenties. After two years of prayer, he was asked by his bishop Simeon to return to Hama. There he was ordained deacon and later priest. A few years later he moved to Aleppo where he served as a preacher. On February 12, 1612, Karmah was consecrated metropolitan of Aleppo by Patriarch Athanasius II Dabbas, taking the name of the saint of that day, ‘’Meletios’’.

As metropolitan he strove to increase the literacy and the education of his flock and clergy. To accomplish this aim he needed liturgical and religious books in Arabic. To this end, in 1612, Karmah published in Arabic the Typikon of Mar Saba, a Liturgikon, and a Sticherarion. However, to produce additional publications he needed money. To gain further funding he approached Rome for a grant that he received from the Franciscans missionaries. He also persuaded the Vatican to begin preparing an Arabic translation of the complete Holy Bible. While it was difficult in the years following the Council of Trent, financing was obtained for the translation, although the translation took longer and only the Gospels were published.

During the time he was metropolitan of Aleppo, Karmah was under harsh criticism many times. In 1614, he traveled to Constantinople to defend himself before Patriarch Timothy II, who decided to confirm him in his position. Some years later, he was strongly attacked by Cyril Dabbas for supporting Ignatius III Atiyah, who both were claiming the patriarchal see of Antioch. Their dispute continued in 1624 when after Cyril Dabbas moved to Aleppo Karmah always refused to concelebrate with him.

Karmah continued to refuse recognizing Cyrill even at the celebration of Pascha in 1625. In retaliation, Cyrill Dabbas accused Karmah before the Ottoman authorities who there upon arrested him. He was beaten and charged with a large monetary fine that the Christians of Aleppo paid to have him released.

In 1627, he again returned to Constantinople to defend himself, also again successfully. In 1628, he took part to the Synod of Ras-Baalbek, where he along with all the other Melkite bishops deposed Cyrill and declared Ignatius III to be the sole patriarch, ending the split in the Melkite Church.

A few months after the bloody death of Patriarch Ignatius III Atiyah in 1634, Karmah was elected the Patriarch by the Christians of Damascus. He was consecrated on May 1, 1634, taking the name of Euthymius III.

Carrying through with the friendly relations he had in the previous years with the Western missionaries, his first move as Patriarch was to send a delegation to Rome to re-establish union with the Catholic Church as set forth in the decisions of the Council of Florence. He also planned to open schools with Jesuit teachers.

Because of these openings towards the Roman Catholic Church, he clashed with the pro-Orthodox and pro-Turkish parties within the Melkite Church. As his delegation arrived to Rome to obtain a positive response from the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide), he died suddenly in Damascus on January 1, 1635. His death has been attributed to probable poisoning because of his intention to proceed with a union with the Catholic Church.

Succession box:
Euthymius III Karmah
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Aleppo
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Ignatius III Atiyah
Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by:
Euthymius IV
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