Maximos V Hakim

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  • Maximos V
  • ماكسيموس الخامس حكيم
Patriarch of Antioch
ChurchMelkite Greek Catholic Church
Elected22 November 1967
Installed26 November 1967
Term ended22 November 2000
PredecessorMaximos IV Sayegh
SuccessorGregory III Laham
Other post(s)Bishop of Damas
Ordination20 July 1930
by Maximos IV Sayegh
Consecration13 June 1943
by Cyril IX Moghabghab
Personal details
George Selim Hakim

(1908-05-18)18 May 1908
Died29 June 2001(2001-06-29) (aged 93)
Beirut, Lebanon
DenominationMelkite Greek Catholic Church
ResidenceSyria and Lebanon
Previous post(s)
Coat of arms

Maximos V Hakim (Arabic: ماكسيموس الخامس حكيم; May 18, 1908 – June 29, 2001) was elected Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in 1967 and served until 2000. He guided the church through turbulent changes in the Middle East and rapid expansion in the Western hemisphere.


He was born George Selim Hakim at Tanta, Egypt, May 18, 1908, to parents who were originally from Aleppo.[1] He was educated locally and at Le Collège de la Sainte Famille (High School of the Holy Family) Jesuit school in Cairo. After completing his studies at St. Anne of Jerusalem, he was ordained a priest in the Basilica of St. Anne by Maximos IV Sayegh, then Archbishop of Tyre, on July 20, 1930. As a young priest he taught for a year in the patriarchal school in Beirut before returning to Cairo in 1931.


He was appointed eparch on March 13, 1943 and consecrated Eparch of St. John of Acre, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee, in Cairo on June 13, 1943, by Patriarch Cyril IX Moghabghab, assisted by the Archbishops Dionysius Kfoury, Titular bishop of Tarsus dei Greco-Melkiti, and Pierre Medawar, Titular bishop of Pelusium dei Greco-Melkiti, patriarchal auxiliaries. On November 18, 1964 Hakim became Archeparch. He was elected Patriarch by the Holy Synod at Ain Traz on November 22, 1967 and his election was confirmed on November 26 of the same year.[2]

As a priest, he distinguished himself by his running of the Patriarchal College in Cairo and by the launching and publication of the review Le Lien. Later, as an archbishop, he built schools, a junior seminary, an orphanage, a home for the elderly and several churches. He took particular care for the clergy and for the religious and secular orders and he brought in several groups of Europeans come to integrate themselves into the Church. As archbishop he spearheaded efforts to provide relief for Palestinians during the 1948 exodus.

Under his guidance as patriarch, a minor seminary was established at Damascus and later a major seminary for the formation of priests was opened at Raboueh in Lebanon. He later funded numerous scholarships for needy seminarians during the Lebanese Civil War. He also oversaw the growth of the Melkite church in North and South America as many of the faithful emigrated to the West.

Maximos condemned the violence that pitted Muslim against Christian in Lebanon, where Greek Catholics constitute 4% of the population.[1] In 1982, he negotiated with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to safeguard ancient Christian villages in the Chouf valley. He enjoyed warmer ties with the Syrian government than the Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, patriarch of the more powerful Maronite Catholic community.[1] Even so, community politics would prove dangerous for him at times. In 1990, he was targeted by would-be assassins as he travelled to the predominantly Christian city of Zahle, located in the predominantly Shi'ite Beq'a valley.[1]

Following an old tradition of the more-than-900-year-old Order of Knighthood, founded in Jerusalem to take care of lepers in the Hospital St. Lazare, he was the Spiritual Protector of the international ecumenical Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, as is his successor.

Patriarch Maximos resigned on November 22, 2000, due to failing health, and was succeeded by Patriarch Gregory III Laham. He died on June 29, 2001, in Beirut.

1948 Nakba controversy[edit]

In the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Hakim negotiated with Yehoshua ("Josh") Palmon, then leader of the "Arab Section" in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, for the return of Galilee Christian Arabs (then refugees in Lebanon) in exchange for Hakim's future goodwill towards the Jewish State. In the end, several thousand (including several hundred from Eilabun) Galilee Christians were allowed to return in the summer of 1949.[3]

In the 1950s, while he was archbishop of Galilee, the future patriarch was involved in the fate of the Palestinians of the two depopulated Christian villages of Kafr Bir'im and Iqrit. He alerted the Vatican and other Church authorities about the expulsion of the villagers, and lobbied for their return.

A number of sources[4][5][6] have quoted Maximos V as having said "the Arab League had issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in neighboring countries." For example, Israel's Abba Eban told the U.N. Special Political Committee in 1957 that Hakim had said:

The refugees had been confident that their absence from Palestine would not last long; that they would return within a few days [or] within a week or two; their leaders had promised them that the Arab armies would crush the 'Zionist gangs' very quickly and that there would be no need for panic or fear of a long exile.[4]

A 1949 pamphlet Arab Refugees: Facts and Figures prepared by the Research Department of the Jewish Agency, quotes a letter by Karl Baehr, Executive Secretary of the American Christian Palestine Committee to the New York Herald Tribune:

The role played by the British authorities in the Arab mass flight is also stressed by Monsignor George Hakim, Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church (a Uniate Church which is in fellowship with the Vatican and counts 20,864 adherents in Palestine). An Arab himself and a former supporter of the Mufti, Archbishop Hakim told Baeher... that an important element in precipitating the flight, particularly in the Haifa area (where Monsignor lives) was "the fact that the British informed the Arabs that they would not protect them. Since most of the Arab leaders had already fled, the people were thrown into a panic so they fled by sea to Lebanon. They fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel."[7]

Erskine Childers investigated the claims made about Hakim, and in The Spectator of May 12, 1961, published a letter from Hakim addressing them:

There is nothing in this statement to justify the construction which many propagandists had put on it, namely, that it established the allegation widely disseminated by partisan sources that the Arab leaders had urged the Arab inhabitants of Palestine to flee.

As far as I can recollect, the aforesaid statement was intended to voice the strong feeling of resentment and revulsion felt by the refugees. They were convinced by what they had heard and read that the defeat of the Jewish armed forces, the re-establishment of peace and order throughout the country, and the institution of Arab rule, would be achieved within a short time. Instead of such achievements the Arab States had twice agreed to a truce, and the Arab armies were inactive. Hence the strong feeling of disappointment and frustration among the file and rank of refugees.

At no time did I state that the flight of the refugees was due to the orders, explicit or implicit, of their leaders, military or political, to leave the country and seek shelter in the adjacent Arab territories. On the contrary, no such orders were ever made by the military commanders, or by the Higher Arab Committee, or indeed, by the Arab League or Arab States. I have not the least doubt that any such allegations are sheer concoctions and falsifications. [....]

... as soon as hostilities began between Israel and the Arab States, it became the settled policy of the Government to drive away the Arabs.[8]


A prolific writer, Maximos is best remembered for his Arabic work Al Rabita and French works Message de Galiléerenc and Pages d'Évangile lues en Galilée.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Joffe, Lawrence (July 28, 2001). "Obituaries: Maximos V: Spiritual leader of a million Christians". The Guardian (London). p. 22.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, 2004 p. 480
  4. ^ a b Abba Eban (November 1958). "Arab Refugees: The Real Story". Address to the UN General Assembly's Special Political Committee. The Jewish Press. Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  5. ^ John B. Quigley (1990). Palestine and Israel: a challenge to justice. Duke University Press. pp. 88–. ISBN 978-0-8223-1023-5. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  6. ^ No solution to the Arab-Palestinian Problem Samuel Katz, 1985
  7. ^ Jewish Agency for Palestine (1949). Arab Refugees: Facts and Figures. New York, N.Y.: Jewish Agency for Palestine. p. 12. Usually attributed to Joseph Schechtman though his name doesn't appear.
  8. ^ E. B. Childers (1971). "Transformation of Palestine". In I. Abu-Lughod (ed.). The Wordless Wish. Northwestern University Press. pp. 197–198.

External links[edit]