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Honorary Patrons


His Eminence Cardinal Dr. Christoph Schönborn

Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert Schönborn, O.P., born 22 January 1945, is a Bohemian-origin Austrian Dominican friar and theologian, who is a cardinal of the Catholic Church. He serves as the Archbishop of Vienna and was the Chairman of the Austrian Bishops‘ Conference from 1998 to 2020. He is also Grand Chaplain of the Order of the Golden Fleece (Austrian branch) and a member of the aristrocratic House of Schönborn, several members of which held high offices of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church as prince-bishops, prince- electors and cardinals.

In September 1945, his family was forced to flee Bohemia. Schönborn passed his Matura examination in 1963 and entered the Order of Preachers. He studied theology in Paris and philosophy and psychology in Bornheim-Walberberg and Vienna. Schönborn also attended the Institut Catholique of Paris for further theological work before studying Slavic and Byzantine Christianity at the Sorbonne.

Schönborn was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Vienna on 1 April 1995 and succeeded as Archbishop of Vienna on 14 September 1995. He was created Cardinal-Priest by Pope John Paul Il in the consistory of 21 February 1998. Considered among the papabili following the death of Pope Saint John Paul II, Cardinal Schönborn was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI and in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis. Cardinal Schönborn remains eligible to vote in any future conclaves for papal vacancies occurring before he reaches 80 on 22 January 2025. Cardinal Schönborn has accompanied the ICLN as its spiritual director since 2010, when the organization was founded, and has not missed a single annual meeting.

The Right Honorable Lord Prof. David Alton

David Alton was born in 1951 and became involved in politics as a teenager and at 17 years of age was elected as chairman of his town’s branch of Young Liberals. In his Student Union he successfully proposed a campaign against apartheid and became active in community politics, choosing to live in a neighborhood where half the homes had no inside sanitation and had been designated as a slum clearance area. While still a student, aged 21, in 1972 he was elected to Liverpool City Council and became the city’s Housing Chairman and Deputy Leader. David Alton was elected as Member of Parliament in 1979 and became the youngest member of the House of Commons For 18 years he was a Member of the House of Commons and in 1997 stood down from the Commons. In that same year he was appointed a Life Peer in the House of Lords and until today is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer. His motto on his Coat of Arms is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy: Choose Life.

Lord Alton is internationally considered to be one of the most respected politicians today for his principled and unwavering stance on the protection of life from the moment of conception, his parliamentary work in opposition of euthanasia and his work around the world in defense of freedom of conscience and religion. He has received numerous honors and rewards and continues to work tirelessly for the poor, the downtrodden and the voiceless, both inside the United Kingdom and around the world. It was David Alton who in 2008, during a small gathering of Christian legislators at the House of Lords that he co-organized with Christiaan Alting von Geusau, proposed for the first time the idea to start an international network of Catholic legislators.


His Eminent Beatitude Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi

Cardinal Béchara Bourtos Raï, Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites (Lebanon), was born on 25 February 1940 at Himlaya in the Archeparchy of Antélias (the same village in which Rafqa Arrayes, the first Maronite saint, was born). He studied at the Jesuits’ Notre Dame de Jambour College.

He made his perpetual profession in the Mariamite Maronite Order on 31 July 1962. He was then sent to Rome to study philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Lateran University where he earned a doctorate in canon law and a licence in sacred theology. He was ordained a priest on 3 September 1967. For several years he was in charge of the Mariamite scholasticate in Rome, while serving as director of the Arab Language programmes of Vatican Radio.

He returned to Lebanon in 1975, at the beginning of the war, to direct the College of Notre Dame in Louayzé, a town in which he founded and supervised the Foreign Languages Institute. He then served as a judge on the Patriarchal Tribunal and as head of Santa Rita School in Dbayé. On 2 May 1986 the Maronite Synod elected him Patriarchal Vicar and the Pope assigned him the titular episcopal see of Caesarea Philippi. He was ordained a bishop on 12 July 1986. On 9 June 1990, he was transferred to the new Eparchy of Jbeil (Byblos) for Maronites and, in 2003, was appointed Secretary of the Permanent Synod of the Maronite Church. In this capacity, he took part in several Synods in Rome, including the Special Assembly for the Middle East in October 2010, at which he was elected to the post-synodal council. In 2009, he became President of the Communications Commission of the Maronite Synod and promoted the television network TeleLumière-Noursat.

On 15 Maruch 2011 he was elected the 77th successor of St. Maron at the Extraordinary Synod in Bkerké, north-east of Beirut. On 24 March that same year Benedict XVI granted him the Ecclesiatica Communio, which he had requested, complying with can. 76 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. This special bond with the Church of Rome was publicly confirmed the following 15 April – on the occasion of his first visit to the Pope – at the Divine Liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at which Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, presided as Papal Delegate.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 24 November 2012. He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II

Born in Qamishly – Syria, on May 3, 1965. He entered St. Aphrem Theological Seminary in Atchaneh – Lebanon, in 1977, after completing his primary schooling in Qamishly. Starting in 1982, the young Aphrem served at the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, Syria, for two years under the guidance of His Eminence Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim. From 1984 to 1988, he pursued his theological studies at the Coptic Theological Seminary in Cairo, graduating with a BA Degree of Divinity. In 1985, he took the vows of a monk, submitting himself in the service of the Church and was ordained to the diaconate in Egypt, and later that same year, to the sacred priesthood in Qamishly. From 1988 to 1989, the monk-priest Aphrem served as both the secretary of the late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and as a teacher at St. Aphrem Theological Seminary in Damascus, Syria.

In 1991, he entered St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland, where he received a License of Sacred Theology in 1992, and a Doctor of Divinity Degree in 1994, following the defense of his doctoral thesis on Symbolism of the Cross in Early Syriac Christianity. During that time, he also served as the vicar of our Syriac Orthodox Church in London. On Sunday, January 28, 1996, the monk-priest Aphrem was consecrated as Archbishop under the episcopal name ‘Mor Cyril’ and became the Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church for the Eastern USA.

Within a year as an Archbishop, he gathered the youth of the archdiocese and was instrumental in establishing an Archdiocesan Scholarship Program to benefit students. During his tenure, he established a number of new parishes in the Archdiocese in Washington DC, Florida, New Jersey, Atlanta, Indiana, Virginia, Indiana and Texas.

Mor Cyril established himself as an ecumenist, very much concerned about Christian Unity. He has served on both the Executive and Central Committees of the World Council of Churches, attending the 1991 Canberra, Australia WCC General Assembly, the 1998 WCC General Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe and the 2006 Assembly of Porto Alegre, Brazil, as a member of the Syriac Orthodox Church delegation.

Moreover, he was an active member of the Executive and Governing Boards of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and he served as Vice-Chairman of the Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in America. Archbishop Aphrem Karim played an important role in the establishment of a new and promising ecumenical body, Christian Churches Together in the USA, of which the Syriac Orthodox Church is a founding member. In 2013, he enrolled at Fordham University in New York for a PhD in religious education.

On March 31, 2014, following the passing away of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch convened and the Fathers of the Synod elected Mor Cyril Aphrem as Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, giving him the name Mor Ignatius Aphrem II. He is the 122nd successor of St. Peter in the Apostolic See of Antioch. He was enthroned in Damascus, Syria, on May 29, 2014.