Biography

Curriculum Vitae of

His Excellency The Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus Youssef Antoine Soueif

Personal Details

Born in Chekka – Lebanon on 14 July 1962 in a Lebanese – Argentinean family.
Parents: Antoine and Denise (née Gerges) Soueif. Brother and Sisters: Raymond, Marie-Jeanne and Sylvie. Youssef Soueif has both the Lebanese and the Cypriot nationality.

He was ordained priest on 5th September 1987 and on 6th December 2008 Archbishop of the Maronites of Cyprus. In 1987 he obtained a Bachelor degree in philosophy and theology at the Holy Spirit University, Kaslik- Lebanon and in 1992 he obtained his PHD in Eastern Ecclesiastical Studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.

Languages – Written and Spoken: Arabic, French, Italian, English, Greek, Spanish and German; knowledge of ancient languages: Syriac, Greek and Latin.

 

Ecclesiastical Institutions

Member of the Synod of the Catholic Maronite Church, APECL (Assemblée des Patriarches et Evêques Catholiques au Liban), ACOHL (the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land), CCEE (the Council of European Catholic Bishops) and COMECE (Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community). He is one of the Cypriot Religious Leaders for the Cyprus Peace Process.

Ministry

In 1992 he served as a parish priest and was then Delegate of the Archeparchy of Tripoli- Lebanon at the committee preparing the Synod of Lebanon. In 1997 he was appointed Episcopal Vicar for the pastoral activities in Tripoli coordinating the liturgical celebrations of the visit of Pope Saint John Paul II to Lebanon. In 2000 he became General Vicar of the Archeparchy and was directly involved in the different pastoral areas: social (Caritas, orphanage and other Church organizations), youth, family, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, education, health (Saint Maroun Dispensary- Tripoli), job opportunities for youth, Theological and Social formation for laity. In 2008 he was elected president of the Sacerdotal League of Lebanon.  In 2010 as president of Caritas Cyprus (founded in 1976), he started the process of structural renewal. In 2010 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI special secretary for the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East and then member of the post-synodal commission. In 2012 he became the president of the Patriarchal Liturgical commission and in the same year Pope Benedict XVI appointed him member of the Executive Board of Caritas Internationalis. In June 2015 Pope Francis appointed him for a second mandate in the Executive Board of Caritas Internationalis.

In his pastoral task, he activates and promotes the Diaconia of Charity.  Both in Lebanon and Cyprus, he launched many centres for Theological and Social formation for laity and he presided a technical Institute in rural areas. He founded “Stella Orientis” for Social Cultural and Religious Tourism and the A Capella choir “I Melodia Ton Neon” the Melody of the Youth, whose members belong to different religions and cultures.

Pastoral Reflections

Next to the themes related to the Oriental Ecclesiastical Studies, Youssef Soueif through the Ecclesiastical Institutions he belongs to, contributes in reflections and analysis in many topics discussed during the various meetings, assemblies, conferences and seminars in which he participates, some of which are stated below:

The Service of the Word,  the Service of Charity, the Family, the Ecclesiastical Communion, the Inter-religious Dialogue, The Contribution of Catholics to the Realization of the Common good in society, The Rights of Minorities, Dialogue for a just peace to be lived in a spirit of love and reconciliation based on mutual confidence and trust between religions.

The Political transitions in the Middle East, The Christian Churches in Maghreb and Machrek, Future of Christians in the Middle East.

The Relationship between Church and State after 20 years to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Demographics and the Family which is the future of Europe, European countries contribution in the New Evangelization, The Challenges of Evangelization in Europe, the Evangelization in the Catholic Oriental Churches of Europe: “you will be my testimonies”, God and the State, Europe in the midst of secularity and secularism, Human rights, Rule of law, Democracy, The religious dimension of intercultural dialogue and Democracy through Law in the countries of South-East Europe.

Developing fair non-discrimination legislation in the EU, The populism in the European Union, Shaping the future of Europe, The Financial crisis and the future of European Integration: more Europe is needed, Solidarity such as principle of the European Union – The dignity of each person aging and the need for greater solidarity: the contribution of the Church in the debate, Migration and Integration, The social cohesion, the EU seen from the outside.

 

Local and International Ecclesiastical Affairs

2009: – Welcoming His Eminence Cardinal Renato Martino, special Delegate of Pope Benedict XVI for the visit to Paphos on the occasion of the closing of Saint Paul Year.

2010: – Apostolic Visit to Cyprus of Pope Benedict XVI – Lineamenta of the Synod for the Middle East.

2011: – Hosting the annual meeting of the CCEE South-East Europe Bishops’ Conference “Rooted in Christ, Strong in Faith. Pastoral work with young people in South-East Europe”.‏

– Hosting as Caritas Cyprus the workshop of Caritas Internationalis in MONA region “Improving financial Management and Transparency in the Caritas Confederation”.

– Participating in Rome in the conference organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum “The Holy Father and European Volunteers.”

 2012: – Welcoming the Maronite Patriarch H.B. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai in his pastoral visit to Cyprus.

– In the same year with Cardinal Rai visit to Ankara, courtesy visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, visit to the Christian communities in Turkey and the city of Antioch.

– Hosting   the CCEE meeting «Caritas in Veritate» in Cyprus “The pledge of the Catholic Church in fostering social cohesion in Europe”.

– Participating   in the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI in Lebanon. Signature of  the Apostolic Exhortation “The Church in the Middle East.

2013: – Award by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Demetris Christofias “The Grand Commander of Archbishop Makarios III Order” as an expression of recognition to his ministry for the cause of peace and reconciliation.

2014: – Participating in the Apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land.

– “High Level Meeting on the Crises in the Middle East” organized by Caritas Internationalis in Rome.

– Participating also in the seminar organized by Caritas Internationalis and the Pontifical Council for the Family “The family: a resource to overcome the crisis” (Ahead of the Synod of Bishops on the Family).

 

2015-2016: – Participating in the meeting organized by the CorUnum on the Crisis in Syria and Iraq

2017:

– Participating in the international conference: “Perspectives for Promoting Integral Human Development – 50 years from the Encyclical Populorum Progressio”, invited by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the new Dicastery. (3 and 4 April 2017)

 

Key note speaker on Theological, Ecclesiastical and Social topics

Since 1992 Archbishop Soueif gives lectures and publishes articles related to the Oriental Ecclesiastical Studies and the Social Teaching of the Church.

2007: – “The Maronite Liturgical reforms. The religious dimensions in Lebanon and the Middle East” – Sorbonne University (EPHE).

 

2010: – European University of Cyprus: “A little light on the Maronite Church”.

– Brussels – European Parliament – seminar organized by the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the E.U. “Religious freedom and holy sites in the Republic of Cyprus”.

– R.O.A.C.O. “The Challenges of the Churches in the Middle East”.

 

2011: – Member of an ecclesiastical delegation visiting the European Institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg and giving conferences about the Christians of the Middle East.

– International Congress about “the Genesis of the Anaphoral Institution Narrative in Light of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari” organized by the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome: “The Maronite Church: a Bridge between East and West”.

 

2012: – First International Conference “The Hagiography of Cyprus” “The Maronite community of Cyprus and the Cypriot Hagiography: Mutual influences”

– 1st Liturgical Symposium by the Holy Spirit University (USEK) Lebanon, “the Liturgical Reform in the Oriental Churches”, “the Liturgical Patriarchal Commission and the Liturgical reform”.

– University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Lebanon “Pastoral aspect of the Ritual of Penitence”.

– Seminar organized in Lebanon by the Pontifical Council for the Social Communication of the East Catholic Patriarchs “The communication in the context of the Synod of the Bishops for the Middle East”.

– “The Future of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa” in Brussels organized by COMECE in collaboration with ECR and EPP entitled “Christians in the Arab World: One year after the ‘Arab Spring”.

– Debate in the European Parliament Brussels introducing the Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East of Pope Benedict XVI.

– The Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the European Institutions, Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches “An Ongoing Need for Freedom of Religion or Belief in Cyprus”.

 

2013: – 2nd Liturgical Symposium organized by the Liturgical Institute in the Holy Spirit University (USEK) Lebanon “The Patriarch Doueihy and the Liturgy”.

– CCEE delegate to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul on the occasion of 1700 years after Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan: “Religious Freedom Today – the reality of religious freedom in the world”.

– Invited in  Brussels by the President of the European Commission Mr. José Manuel BARROSO  to participate in the high level Religious Leaders’ meeting “A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity: a common willingness to promote democratic rights and liberties, making EU citizenship a realistic project ”.

– 16th EPP group annual interreligious dialogue in Cyprus on the processes of peace building through religions and conflict resolution in the Mediterranean region “The Dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jewish for Peace”.

 

2014: – International Symposium in Lebanon on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Council Vatican II “The Council Vatican II and the Oriental Churches” “The Vatican II and the Liturgical Reform in the East”.

– University of Neapolis – Cyprus – Faculty of Theological Studies “Worship as the center of the life of the Church” “The Maronite Liturgy: The Liturgy of the Living Treasure”.

– Round table   37th National Conference Of Caritas Italiana – Cagliari  “With the Gospel in the heart of Europe” – “With the Gospel in the suburbs existential”: “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col 3,12-13).

– 3rd Liturgical Symposium by the Liturgical Institute of the Holy Spirit University (USEK) Lebanon “The Lent and the Liturgy “the Mass of Pre-sanctified and its relation with lent”.

– Representing  the Holy See in the Regional Conference in Athens organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council in the Hellenic  Parliament “Religious freedom and security for Christian Community in the Middle East and the Mediterranean Countries”.

–  Catholic Social Days for Europe – Madrid Spain organized by CCEE and COMECE “Christian Faith and the Future of Europe” presiding a workshop of “Trans-generational Solidarity and Welfare Systems in Europe”.

– Presentation in Nicosia  together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ioannis Kassoulides of the book ‘Pope Benedict XVI – The Apostolic Visit of the Holy Father to Cyprus’ by Dr Joseph Moutiris.

 

2015: – 4th Liturgical Symposium by the Liturgical Institute of the Holy Spirit University (USEK) Lebanon “the Family and the Liturgy” the day of the Lord in the Christian Family”.

– Symposium organized by the Municipality of Kyrenia – Cyprus “The role of religions in resolving the Cyprus problem” “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.

-Seminar organized by Saint Egidio under the subject of “Peace is always possible” and his paper was about the “Christians and Muslims and the Challenges of a Global World”.

– The Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the European Institutions, Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches “Cyprus: Freedom of Religion and its cultural heritage”.

 

2016: – invited by the University of Sorbonne to give a seminar about “the Minorities in Cyprus, yesterday and today” (March 2016)

– Participated at the 5th Liturgical Symposium organized by the Liturgical Institute of the Holy Spirit University (USEK) Lebanon under the topic: “The Maronite Liturgy in the Diaspora” and the paper was entitled: “the Maronite Pastoral Commitment in the Diaspora: Challenges and future prospects” (April 2016)

– Led the Spiritual Retreat of the Priests of the Maronite Eparchy of Canada under the topic of “The Priest, Apostle of Mercy” (April 2016)

– He participated at the NAM (National Apostolic Maronites) held in San Francisco-USA, leading seminars for the clergy and lay around different Liturgical topics. (July 2016)

– He participated in the XII Symposium Syriacum and gave a paper entitled “The Syriac Traditions in Cyprus” (August 2016)

– He participated in the European Meeting of the CCEE Commission Caritas in Veritate, on the occasion of the year of Mercy and he gave an intervention under the topic of “The relationship between the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy, To educate with and in the works of Mercy” (September 2016)

– He led a panel in the 30th meeting in Assisi: Thirst for Peace Religions and cultures in dialogue” organized by the Community of Saint Egidio, the topic of the panel was “Christians and Muslims to the test of coexistence” (September 2016)

– He participated in the conference on the Pastoral of the “Sacrament of Baptism and Christening: a sacerdotal Service and a collective responsibility” organized by the university of Saint Joseph and the University of Sagesse, the subject of his paper: “the Liturgical practice between the celebration of faith, the religious piety and the social phenomenon, from the liturgical approach” (December 2016)

 

2017: – He led a Spiritual Retreat for the Clergy of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, on the Maronite Liturgy and its spirituality and how to put it in practice from the pastoral side. (January 2017).

–  He participated as member of the Joint Committee of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in the in the meeting held in Paris under the subject “Together to witness Christ in Europe” in which matters related to the Church of Europe were discussed. (February 2017).

– He participated in the gathering of Trieste “What good is to light a small candle in the darkness around us?” and had an intervention on the Christians of the Middle East and the Cyprus experience. (April 2017)

– He participated at the 6th Liturgical Symposium organized by the Liturgical Institute of the Holy Spirit University (USEK) Lebanon under the topic: the Anaphoras and he had a paper under the theme: the Syriac Anaphoras and the Syro-Maronite Anaphoras, the Anaphoras in the Syriac, Western, Eastern and Maronite traditions. (April 2017)

– paper on “Religious Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa Region in the “First Conference on Religious Freedom” organised by Mission (March 2017)

– Invited by the University Pastoral Care of the Rome Vicariate, he participated in the XIV International Symposium of University Professors and of Centres of Research and of Advanced Professional Training held in Rome. He gave an intervention entitled: “Europe and Mediterranean crises: migration, integration, peace. The Role of the Christians in the Middle East for promoting Peace, Democracy and Solidarity” (June 2017)