|Gregorios III and Sviatoslav of Kyiv|
Patriarch of Antioche of the Greco-Melkites
and to all the Bishops of that Church
Beatitude and Venerable Brothers in Christ,
In my sollicitude for all the Churches, I address myself to you, grateful for your service to the People of God and conscious of your responsibility as Pastors.
Following the meeting of the Synod of Bishops last February, during the audience which I granted him, His Beatitude spontaneously presented his resignation from the patriarchal office, and asked me to chose the most favourable moment to accept it. After having prayed and reflected attentively, I have judged it opportune and necessary, for the good of the Greco-Melkite Church, to accept his resignation today.
In thanking His Beatitude, a zealous servant of the People of God, for the years of generous service to his Church and for and for keeping the international community’s attention focused on the tragedy of Syria, I invoke upon you all the intercession of the Holy Mother of God and gladly grant the apostolic blessing to our dear Greco-Melkite Church, as a sign of grace and encouragement for the future of communion and witness to the Gospel.
From the Vatican, 6 May 2017
source: Vatican Radio English section
Many have questioned why The Father and Head of a sui iris Church entrusted this task to the Pope. According to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, it is the prerogative of a patriarch to do so:
CCEO, canon 126 §2. "The synod of bishops of the patriarchal Church is competent to accept the resignation of the patriarch, having consulted with the Roman Pontiff, unless the patriarch approaches the Roman Pontiff directly."