Gregory III (Laham) (Arabic,غريغوريوس الثالث لحام)(b.1933), Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, is the spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. He was elected patriarch on November 29, 2000, succeeding Maximos V Hakim, who resigned at age 92 due to failing health, dying seven months later. He took the name Gregory after the Patriarch Gregory II Youssef, the last member of his order to be elected patriarch (1864-1897).
Patriarch Gregory was born Lutfy Laham in Darayya, Syria in 1933. He entered the Seminary of the Holy Savior of the Basilian Salvatorian Fathers in the Shoof, Lebanon in 1944. He took his simple religious vows in the Basilian Salvatorian Order in 1949 and his solemn religious vows in 1954. He received his religious and philosophical education at the Holy Savior Seminary, Joun, Lebanon. He continued his theological studies in Rome where he was ordained priest in 1959 in the Church of the Abbey of Grottaferrata in Italy.
The future patriarch received a doctoral degree in Oriental Theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome following his ordination . He then served as superior of the Holy Savior Major Seminary from 1961-64. In 1962 he founded the magazine Al-Wahdah - Unity in Faith, the first ecumenical magazine to be published in the Arabic language. He also founded several orphanages and trade schools in Lebanon.
He was appointed Administrator of the Patriarchal Vicariate of Jerusalem in 1974, in the wake of the Israeli arrest of the Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, Archbishop Hilarion Capucci of Aleppin Salvatorians. He founded the Student Fund in Jerusalem to help needy students and in 1978 the Family Assistance Fund to help needy families in the troubled areas of his Diocese. In 1967 he founded at the Patriarchate the Oriental Library to promulgate the knowledge of Eastern traditions. He initiated many social projects such as repairing churches, opening clinics and building popular housing, including a guest house for pilgrims at the Patriarchal Center in Jerusalem.
Following an old tradition of the more than 900-years old Order of Knighthood, founded in Jerusalem to take care of lepers in the Hospital of St. Lazarus, he is the Spiritual Protector of the international ecumenical Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem as were his predecessors Maximos IV and Maximos V.
Appointed by Patriarch Maximos V as president of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission, he edited the Anthologion, the prayer book or breviary of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and The Book of the Liturgies, an updated compendium of the Divine Liturgy. As secretary of the Ecumenical Commission of the Melkite Patriarchate, he led the dialogue between the Melkite Greek Catholic and the Greek (Antiochian) Orthodox Churches.