Maximos V
Patriarch of Antioch
Church Melkite Greek Catholic Church
See Patriarch of Antioch
Enthroned November 22, 1967
Reign ended November 29, 2000
Predecessor Maximos IV Sayegh
Successor Gregory III Laham
Personal details
Birth name George Selim Hakim
Born May 18, 1908
Tanta, Egypt Egypt
Died June 29, 2001
Beirut, Lebanon Lebanon
Residence Syria and Lebanon

Maximos V (1908-2001) was elected Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch in 1967 and served until 2000. He guided the church through tubulent 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 College 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 consecrated Archbishop 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 Dionysios Kfoury and Peter Kamel Medawar, patriarchal auxiliaries. He was elected Patriarch by the Holy Synod at Ain Traz on November 22, 1967.

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 Syria than his colleague, Butros Nasrallah 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-beassassins as he travelled to the predominantly Christian city of Zahle, located in the predonimately Shi'ite Beq'a valley.[1]

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

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


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

1948 Nakba controversy

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 Hakims future goodwill towards the Jewish State. In the end several thousand (including several hundred from Eilabun) Galilee Christian were allowed to return in the summer of 1949.[2]

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.

Israeli officials claimed that Maximos V reported exhortations to his flock to leave Palestine in 1948. For example, Israel's Abba Eban told the U.N. Special Political Committee in 1957 that the archbishop had "fully confirmed" that the Arabs were urged to flee by their own leaders.[1]

Erskine Childers investigated these claims, and wrote in The Spectator on May 12, 1961:

"I wrote to His Grace, asking for his evidence of such orders. I hold signed letters from him, with permission to publish, in which he has categorically denied ever alleging Arab evacuation orders; he states that no such orders were ever given. He says that his name has been abused for years; and that the Arabs fled through panic and forcible eviction by Jewish troops."[2].

Hakim later commented on the use of his words:

"There is nothing in this statement to justify the construction which many propagandists had put on it [...] 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 [...] On the contrary, no such orders were ever made [...] 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." (Childers[3], 197-198.)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Joffe, Lawrence (July 28, 2001). "Obituaries: Maximos V: Spiritual leader of a million Christians". The Guardian (London): pp. 22. 
  2. Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, 2004 p. 480
  3. E. B. Childers (1971). "Transformation of Palestine". in I. Abu-Lughod. The Wordless Wish. Northwestern University Press. 

External links

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