Mon

30

Dec

2013

Churches built after Islamic Invasion to be confiscated.

The Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, Raqqa city, seen here after the al-Qaeda style terrorist group The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) desecrated the Church removed its crosses and bell and turned it into a command centre for its fighters.
The Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, Raqqa city, seen here after the al-Qaeda style terrorist group The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) desecrated the Church removed its crosses and bell and turned it into a command centre for its fighters.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda style terrorist group, have issued a statment to say they will force Christians to live according to Sharia and will confiscate the churches built after the Islamic Invasion (634–638 A.D.) Arabic original here

Update: ISIS Requires Syria’s Christians to Live according to the Decrees of Islamic Law and will Take Over Churches Built after Islam. Full article here in English


32 Comments

Sat

28

Dec

2013

Syrian Patriarch: Takfiris Target All Syrians

News article from the Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Akhbar

Screen capture from a video uploaded by al-Qaeda affiliate Jhabat la-Nushra, showing two of their fighters after they have beheaded a captured soldier, following their destruction of al-Kindi Hospital in Aleppo using two suicide bombers.
Screen capture from a video uploaded by al-Qaeda affiliate Jhabat la-Nushra, showing two of their fighters after they have beheaded a captured soldier, following their destruction of al-Kindi Hospital in Aleppo using two suicide bombers.

In an interview with Al-Akhbar, the Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Antioch, Gregory III Laham, stressed that takfiris – radical Islamists who declare their opponents as apostates – target all Syrians, “but especially Christians as of late, being the weakest link.” Laham revealed that a meeting will be held by the World Council of Churches in Geneva a week before the Geneva II Syria peace conference, and said he was hoping the three Syrian patriarchs would be invited to attend Geneva II, even as observers.

Damascus – Syria is living a tragedy that is bearing heavily on all Syrians, proclaimed Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch, spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The patriarch said that the crisis in his country has so far caused the displacement of around six million Syrians, mostly Muslims, in addition to more than 120,000 casualties, also mostly Muslims.

 

“The devastation has affected nearly 500 mosques and 60 churches,” he added, “which means that it is clear the tragedy has spared no one in Syria.”

Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Melkite Catholic Church in the old city of Homs
Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Melkite Catholic Church in the old city of Homs

Laham continued, “Some takfiris have jumped into the fray and corrupted the Syrian opposition. It seems clear that these people have a takfiri ideology that singles out Christians, Alawis, Druze, and all those who do not subscribe to their ideas, views, and laws. They target everyone. Recently, they have specifically targeted Christians as the weakest link, as we have seen in Maaloula and Sadad. But what is certain is that these people are strangers to Syrian culture, and even Muslims are afraid of them.”

Addressing fears about attempts to completely uproot the Christians of Syria, Laham said, “With God’s help we are steadfast and we shall stay. If anyone is wagering on uprooting Christians from Syria and the Levant then they are deluded. We from time immemorial have been living together as Syrians of all affiliations. This is one of the most important features of Syria in particular, and the Levant in general.”

 

Laham said, “The Orient without its Christians will inevitably lose its identity.” The patriarch then added, “We have a common history, and there should be joint Christian-Muslim determination to stand by one another. No one should declare anyone an apostate. … We can stay, we want to stay, and we must stay. I believe that this slogan should be upheld by everyone, and I had said in my Christmas message: Give me a united Arab-Islamic world, and I can guarantee you that all my children would remain here.”

Trying to Fulfill Our Duty - Concerning the efforts that the church and the Catholic Patriarchate have undertaken, Laham said, “I would like to assure our children that we never for one day hesitated to do everything that we can do. We have made a lot of efforts since the crisis began. Since 2011, the Patriarchate has provided aid to those affected by the crisis, both Christians and non-Christians. The value of aid is about $40,000 monthly.”

 

Laham continued, “We have fulfilled our role when it comes to clarifying what is happening to international public opinion and international bodies, be they ecumenical or political. I personally participated in many meetings and made a number of proposals. For example, I called at the Word Council of Churches meeting in Geneva on September 18 for a global church-led campaign, based on three core principles: no weapons, no violence, no war but peace, reconciliation, and dialogue, and the need to go to Geneva II, in addition to entrenching Islamic-Christian coexistence in the Arab Middle East.”

Church Meeting in Geneva - Patriarch Laham toldAl-Akhbar that the World Council of Churches called for a new meeting in Geneva to be held next month, one week ahead of Geneva II. The meeting would aim to devise proposals, and produce a working paper in an effort to push forward the political process and stop the bloodshed.

 

Concerning Geneva II, scheduled for 22 January 2014, Laham said, “We are praying for the conference to be held and for it to succeed. I hope to be invited, I, Patriarch John X Yazigi [Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch] and Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I [Syriac Orthodox patriarch of Antioch] to Geneva II, even if as observers, to fulfill our role in bringing divergent views together to achieve reconciliation. We are not with a particular regime but are with Syria the state and the homeland that accommodates all its people and guarantees peace for them.”

No New Information on Kidnapped Bishops and Nuns - With regard to the kidnapping of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim, Patriarch Laham explained that he is in constant contact with Patriarchs Yazigi and Zakka. He said he spoke to them recently about this matter, and was told that there were no new developments on the two kidnapped bishops or the nuns who were taken from Maaloula.

 

Laham renewed his prayers throughAl-Akhbar for the safety of the nuns, and said, “Wherever they are, there will be a monastery there, with their constant prayers. We are praying for their safety and the safety of the two dear bishops, and for this ordeal to have a happy ending.”

 

Laham said he plans to spend Christmas in Egypt in fulfillment of an old tradition “to visit our children and our churches and check in on them, but Syria will most certainly be present in our hearts and our prayers.”

Look for Ibn Abdul-Wahhab - The talk about targeting Christians in Syria sounds trivial in a country where everything is being targeted, beginning with the notion of the homeland itself. Fast-paced developments – especially in the second half of 2013 – make the fact that Christians are being targeted indisputable, yet this is something that should be seen as a more dramatic stage of the onslaught on the entire Syrian people.

 

In principle, the raids on Maaloula in 2013 cannot be seen in isolation from the chants heard at the beginning of the Syrian crisis, calling on Christians to “leave to Beirut.” On the ground, the outcome of directly targeting Christians, and anti-Christian attitudes, was that up to 450,000 Christians have left their homes in Syria, according to Patriarch Laham.

 

A quick calculation reveals that up to 10 percent of Syrian Christians have left, bearing in mind that there is no accurate figure on the real number of Christians who were displaced internally.

 

Along the same lines, the targeting of the Christian clergy cannot be seen in isolation from attacks against Syrian clerics in general. Meanwhile, churches, just like mosques, have had their share of the devastation, and so did Christian antiquities – just like the rest of Syrian antiquities.

 

Thus, in light of the unchecked spread of takfiri groups, and the growing influence of extremist groups, the more accurate equation is not Christians versus Islamic extremists, but Syrians versus extremism. Indeed, it is important to remember that most Muslims follow the example of Prophet Mohammad bin Abdullah, and not Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, founder of Wahhabism.  Read original here 

Wahhabism originates in Saudi Arabia

Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. It is a religious movement among fundamentalist believers, which originates in Saudi Arabia and promotes a Takfiri mentality which believes that all those including fellow Muslims who do not follow their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are to be considered as kafir (infidel)

Above the political leaders of NATO member states, America, France and the United Kingdom with the King of Saudi Arabia, a strong regional GCC/Gulf ally and major arms purchaser from the West. Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabi state, arms and funds Takfiri fighters in Syria.

Patrick Cockburn writing in The Independent (U.K.) Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunni monarchs back YouTube hate preachers: Anti-Shia propaganda threatens a sectarian civil war which will engulf the entire Muslim world. There is now a pool of jihadis willing to fight and die anywhere. Read the article here

US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan arming Syria militants: Reporter. November 2013

A French reporter from Le Figaro  has provided details on how the US, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have been supplying tons of weapons to the militants operating inside Syria, Press TV reports.


16 Comments

Sat

28

Dec

2013

President Assad sends a message to Pope Francis

Syrian President Bashar Assad has sent Pope Francis a private message, according to the Vatican. The message, which “illustrated the position of the Syrian government,” was delivered by a delegation, headed by Joseph Sweid, a Syrian minister of state. In the Vatican, the delegation held talks with the pope's secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin and his foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.


4 Comments

Sat

28

Dec

2013

Mufti says concerns of Christians justified

Article from Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star

BEIRUT: Christians’ concerns over their presence in the Middle East are justified, said Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani Thursday, as he urged the release of the kidnapped nuns and bishops in Syria.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani

“Christians’ fears nowadays over their presence and their dignity in the Middle East are right and justified especially as they watch on television their nuns and bishops getting kidnapped and their religious symbols destroyed,” the mufti said during a ceremony for Dar al-Fatwa.

 

Qabbani said that attacking Christian symbols is rejected in Islam and that Muslims should respect the churches, symbols and rituals of Christians.

 

He said some actions against Christians in the region contradict the Islamic traditions and principles and urged action over the kidnapping of bishops and nuns in Syria.

“All Muslim officials, whether kings, princes, or presidents, should save Islam from the aggression of some Muslims against

Christian nuns and bishops and exert serious efforts to secure their release"

“All Muslim officials, whether kings, princes, or presidents, should save Islam from the aggression of some Muslims against Christian nuns and bishops and exert serious efforts to secure their release,” he said.

 

The mufti was referring to the nuns who were seized by rebels and forced to evacuate their convent in Maaloula early last month and to the April kidnapping of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim by Syrian rebels.

 

The mufti also warned against Sunni-Shiite strife citing the weekend clash between two families in Western Bekaa that led to the killing of six people.

 

“Why are you killing each other? Why are you sacrificing your sons and loved ones and accepting to have them in coffins? Do you know where you are going? Wake up Sunnis, Wake up Shiites. Beware of fighting against each other,” he warned.

 

He also said that Sunni-Shiite clashes are the result of the officials’ rhetoric and their challenging each other. Read the original here

Wahhabism originates in Saudi Arabia

Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. It is a religious movement among fundamentalist believers, which originates in Saudi Arabia and promotes a Takfiri mentality which believes that all those including fellow Muslims who do not follow their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are to be considered as kafir (infidel)

Above the political leaders of NATO member states, America, France and the United Kingdom with the King of Saudi Arabia, a strong regional GCC/Gulf ally and major arms purchaser from the West. Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabi state, arms and funds Takfiri fighters in Syria.


27 Comments

Fri

27

Dec

2013

The Herods of Syria

A meditation for the feast of The Holy Innocents 28th December

by

Fr Georges Massouh

 

Fr Georges Massouh is an Antiochian Orthodox priest and the director of the Christian Muslim Studies Center at Balamand University, Lebanon.

Artical courtasy of Notes on Arab Orthodoxy

 

The event of Christ's birth is tied to the tragic event of the killing of "fourteen thousand children" at the orders of Herod, the king of Judea. Herod could not bear for someone to be born who would threaten his authority and speak the truth in his presence. He committed the massacre of thousands of children in order to insure the continuation of his rule and his power over people.

The child-killer Herod is still alive and well. He has not died. From the dawn of history until today, how many Herods have ruled, tyrannized, been exalted, then feel and slept under the ground?

Even so, he has not died. He has worn various garbs and and put on various clothes. He has spoken all the languages of the world. He has taken the colors of every race and nation. He is white, black, yellow and red. He might be a man at one time and a woman at another time.

He takes different forms from one generation to another and he has no lack of grooming in this age. In all situations there are those who laud and applaud him and grant him obedience and loyalty, pledging him to be the ruler of themselves and their tribe.

Herod might be wrapped in the garb of secularism, socialism, nationalism or any other ideology... He might put on the mantle of religious leaders and hide behind religious or sectarian slogans. But he remains the Herod who does not see his glory remain and grow as quickly as the number of victims piled up in mass graves.

"Herod, who seeks the young child's life, is dead." With these words, the angel brought the good news to Joseph, the betrothed of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The angel brings good tidings of the dead of King Herod who ordered the destruction of all the children of Bethlehem under the age of two so that Christ might perish among those babies. The angel appears to Joseph in a dream and asks him to return with the baby Jesus from the land of Egypt to the land of Palestine, after the one who was seeking to kill Him died. The death is wonderful news brought by the angel, the angel of good tidings, to Joseph.

Yes, news of Herod's death was joyous news that brought good tidings to many, among them Joseph and Mary. We are not sinning if we rejoice and and glad with them. Death is true, as people say. There must come the day when a person dies and goes from this world to the next. But Herod's death did not prevent Christ's crucifixion and killing. Herod is not a closed-off and isolated individual. One Herod grows and sprouts another Herod, and on and on until time ends and God inherits the earth and everything upon it.

In Syria today there is not one Herod, but rather many Herods who consider it permissible to commit massacres, killings, beheadings and forced expulsions. All the Herods of the world have come together against Syria, like hungry vultures circling over corpses. The Herods are Syrian, Arab and foreign. Or, you could say the Draculas of this age, satisfied only by more Syrian blood.

When will those who seek to kill the child die? This is not merely a question. It is an ardent prayer that we raise up on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, the King of Peace. When will they die? A question as a prayer from the heart bearing hope, as we are the children of hope, that there will be an end to the shedding of the blood of innocents. Your Nativity, O Christ, fills us with gladness, joy and delight. But it is also our right to be glad, rejoice and delight when when we hear that one of the Herods has died, and how much more so if it were all of them!

Remembering the victims of the Sadad atrocity

Two teenagers and their grandmother, who were killed in Sadad, Syria, and thrown down a well along with other members of their family. October 2013
Two teenagers and their grandmother, who were killed in Sadad, Syria, and thrown down a well along with other members of their family. October 2013

Read more about the massacre in late October at the Christian town of Sadad in Syria where an attack by elements of the “Free” Syrian Army  and al-Qaeda left 45 dead. Thousands fled for their lives amid widespread looting and destruction of homes, businesses and churches. Read more here.


4 Comments

Fri

27

Dec

2013

Christmas Day Inter-Faith Prayers for Peace in Syria

Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch John X hosted an interfaith gathering with common prayer for peace in Syria. The event was attended by the chief Sunni Islamic authority in Syria H.E. Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun and other religious repersentatives. Damascus, 25 December 2013


In the day in which the messenger of peace was born in Bethlehem, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (Mariamite Church) gathered all the brothers in a common prayer for the peace in Syria. This prayer attended by all the sister churches in Syria and the Muslims leaders, was an opportunity to show the real face of Syria. Pope Francis, from Rome, took this opportunity to greet the “brothers praying for the peace in Damascus” and to insist on the necessity of establishing peace in Syria and in all the world. The Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic Dr. Hassoun delivered a speech in which he insisted on the concrete fraternity between the Muslims and the Christians. At the end of this prayer, His Beatitude John X delivered a speech in which he showed through many examples that the Levant is the best region attesting to the real fraternity and common destiny between the Christians and Muslims. He also invited all to adopt the logic of dialogue and acceptance of the other as a unique way to establish peace.

Pope Francis mentions the Damascus gathering in his Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message

          

"Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid......Recalling the power of prayer, he expressed his happiness that followers of different religions were all praying together for peace in Syria; he also invited non-believers “to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire. But all of us, for peace!” Full message here

Syrians celebrate gloomy Christmas as conflict drags on

News report and video from Press TV

While the Christmas celebrations are on the peak around the world, the event in Syria this year is a grim one. For Christians, here, the Christmas is simply a reminder of displacement and loss of family members in the attacks carried out by foreign backed militants.
 

A huge mass was held in the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus and attended by Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and The Mufti of Syria. Prayers called for peace for the country and the souls of those who sacrificed their lives for protecting the homeland. Prayers also called for the return of those who have been abducted by Takfiri militants. Foreign-backed militants operating inside Syria recently took over the ancient Christian town of Maloula in Damascus countryside. A large number of residents were displaced. Al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front terrorists also stormed the Orthodox Mar Takla convent in the middle of the city and abducted several nuns. The Maloula incident is not the isolated one. The militants have sabotaged many churches across the country in recent months. And, mortars fired by them continue to claim the lives of both Christians and Muslims including women and children. Christians in Syria celebrated the Christmas amid calls to boost the security of their war-torn country. Syrian Christians believe that their country will only be stronger with their presence and steadfastness. And despite their sufferings, they still try to live a normal life, hoping stability would be restored.


4 Comments

Tue

24

Dec

2013

Wishing for Peace at Christmas in Syria and the World

3 Comments

Sun

22

Dec

2013

12 killed in attacks against church in southern Syria

News report from Xinhua news outlet China

DAMASCUS, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Syria's armed rebels fired multiple mortar shells on a church in Syria's southern province of Daraa, killing 12 people and injuring many others, the pro- government al-Ekhbarieh TV reported.

 

The shells landed at the old Church in Daraa while the Church volunteers were distributing charity aid to locals, the report said.

 

The incident came as the Syrian Christians, who make up 10 percent in the country's Sunni-majority population, have felt the pain of the protracted crisis, as their population has been subject to attacks by the radical rebels. The latest incident took place earlier this month, when radical jihadists fully controlled Syria's Christian town of Maaloula, north of the capital Damascus.

 

Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of the Church of Antioch and all East, told Xinhua in an interview that Syria's long-term crisis has displaced more than 450,000 Christian Syrians and killed more than a thousand of them.

 

Earlier in the day, five people were killed in a mortar attack against the Hamadanyeh district of the northern province of Aleppo, according to the mainstream media.

Original article here


3 Comments

Sat

21

Dec

2013

Relic hunters: Islamists in Syria earn their daily bread selling Christian trophies

Article from Voice of Russia Radio

In Syria, Islamists have again captured the Christian town of Maaloula. They took prisoner 12 nuns two weeks ago and have since held them in the neighbouring town of Yabroud. Meanwhile, Internet antique shops have featured offers to sell Maaloula relics. That's the way the Jabhat al-Nusra fighters are earning their daily bread.

 

But clerics in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula continue ringing their church bells despite the ongoing fighting, blasts and the abduction of nuns. 

 

This is actually the only reminder of the once quiet life in the small town. The Islamists, - the Jabhat al-Nusra movement fighters, again occupied the town early this month. They broke their pledge not to harm anyone or damage the town's sacred sites and took 12 nuns prisoner. The nuns have since been held in the neighbouring town of Yabroud.

 

It is now clear that the promised respect for the holy Christian places was a lie. Lebanon's Al Akhbar newspaper reported several days ago that several early Christian crosses, holy vessels and statues from Maaloula have been put up for sale on the Internet. The mediators acting on behalf of An-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are looking for rich customers. Syrian relics have been stolen for more than two years now, with major museums across the world having already drawn up the "red list" of Syrian artifacts that may "accidentally" surface on the market. According to Sheila Canby, the Head of the New York-based Metropolitan Museum's Department of Islamic Art, the artifacts that can be taken out of Syria are running into danger, namely such small things as vessels and paraments, above all the enamel and glass works.

 

UNESCO, too, is perfectly aware of the ravaging of Maaloula, as well as Syria's ancient oasis city of Palmyra and dozens of museums in Syrian cities. In September, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met the UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to take up the issue. Bokova said the world must react today to save the Syrian heritage, since tomorrow may be too late. According to her, UNESCO does not need to decide whether it should deal with the humanitarian crisis and protect the Syrian heritage or not. The protection of historical heritage is part of the solution for the humanitarian disaster in Syria.

 

But while UN high-ranking officials and culture ministers have been discussing Syria's alarming situation, invaluable icons, ancient statues and crosses continue to be taken out of Maaloula. Islamic militants go on shelling the Convent of St. Thekla and the Monastery of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. It is not possible to estimate the damage done to Syria's historical heritage before the guns fall silent.

Original article here


7 Comments

Fri

20

Dec

2013

Bishop Audo of Aleppo Our Christmas under the bombs

Article from the Vatican's Pontifical Missions news service, Fides

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - The suburbs of Aleppo, in the hands of rebel forces, have been for days under the bombing of government aviation. According to various sources, the military offensive has already caused more than two hundred deaths. "In the meantime – says the Jesuit Antoine Audo, Chaldean Bishop of the metropolis of Syria to Fides Agency - "in the central areas of the city, mortar fire coming from the outlying areas in the hands of the rebels continue, and continue to cause casualties. Sometimes we hear from afar the thunder of the bombing of the army, but we do not have reliable information with regards to the effects of that offensive. The power shortages do not allow you to connect to the internet or watch television. And of course there are no newspapers".


Bishop Audo describes a contradictory situation, where there are tragic events and the desire for normality, and testimony of redemption and hope: "I have just finished a meeting of coordination with surgeons who have decided to remain in order to assist people across the city who need surgical operations. The work of Caritas continues, and also the pastoral initiatives in view of Christmas. Last week I started a Bible study, and there were more than fifty children. It seems an incredible contradiction. But we try to encourage our Christian people to live concrete initiatives that are also a strong sign of the will not to give up, to continue to hope even in the absurd situation in which we find ourselves. We will not carry out the Christmas vigil at night for security reasons. The liturgical celebration will take place in the afternoon". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/12/2013). Oiginal here


5 Comments

Thu

19

Dec

2013

Those who do not adapt will be expelled or executed!

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa reports more bad news from Syria

The neighbouring Christian towns of Knayem (Qunaya), Yacoubieh (Yacubiyeh) and Jdeideh (Jdayde) in Jisr ash-Shugur district of Idlib province are now under the fundamentalist rule Islamic extremists, with the imposition of strict Saudi style Sharia, to disobey is punishable by expulsion or death!

"I must unfortunately and once again bring to your attention the increasingly difficult situation of our last two Christian villages in the Orontes region of Syria and of our parishioners and our brethren who assist them. The Northern Syria is increasingly in the hands of extremist rebels, while the forces of the so-called 'moderate' lose strength. The rebels who controlled 'our' area, which until now were thought to be tolerant, have been replaced by extremist groups who do not like the presence of non-Muslims in their 'emirate'. The last orders received from our brothers, father and father Dhiya Hanna, are as follows: 

 

A. All crosses must be removed.

B. It is forbidden to ring the bells.

C. Women should not leave the house without covering the face and hair.

D. All the statues must be removed.

 

In case of default, we will apply the Islamic law. In short: those who do not adapt will be expelled or executed. These orders apply to Knayem (Qunaya), Yacoubieh (Yacubiyeh) and Jdeideh (Jdayde), which is currently served by our confreres. For those who may not know the area, those villages are exclusively Christian. I invite everyone to pray for all the communities of Syria, especially for those who live under the control of these extremists ... We pray that the hearts of these people are open to listening to and especially since our small flock of Syria continue to trust in the Lord ".  

Article here in Italian


3 Comments

Mon

16

Dec

2013

Archbishop Nassar: Syrian children envy the stable where Jesus was born

Image from the Antiochian Orthodox Church relief agency Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development
Image from the Antiochian Orthodox Church relief agency Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - "In Syria thousands of children who have lost their homes are living in poor tents just like the stable in Bethlehem". This is how the Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar describes the condition lived by Syrian children in the period before Christmas. In a touching message of Christmas reflections sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus expresses with strong images the feelings shared by many Syrian Christians in front of yet another Christmas of war approaching. "Jesus" says Mgr. Nassar "is not alone in his misery. The Syrian children, abandoned and marked by scenes of violence, dream of being in Jesus’ place, who always has his parents around him and fondle him. (...). Some envy the divine Child who found a stable where to be born and have shelter, while among these unfortunate children there are those who were born under the bombs". Even Mary - insists the Maronite Archbishop "is no longer alone in her difficulties: many unhappy and unfortunate mothers live in extreme poverty and load all the family responsibilities on their shoulders, without their husbands ... The reassuring presence of Joseph at the Holy Family arouses jealousy among the thousands of families deprived of their father. An absence that fuels fear, anguish and anxiety".


In the battered condition of the Syrian people, there seems to be no place for the promise of peace and joy which is typical at Christmas: "The infernal noise of war", writes Nassar "stifles the Glory of Angels". And yet the grueling continued conflict makes the cry of Christian prayer before the crib even louder: "Lord, listen to us" is how the Archbishop Nassar concludes his message. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 16/12/2013) Read article here


5 Comments

Mon

16

Dec

2013

Kanayé, (Qunaya) another Christian village invaded by jihadists that impose the Islamic law

Article from the Vatican’s Pontifical Missions news service, Fides

Marian shrine in the grounds of the Monastery at Qunaya, from a past winter.
Marian shrine in the grounds of the Monastery at Qunaya, from a past winter.

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian village of Kanayé, Orontes River, in the Governorate of Idlib, has been invaded by Islamist militants that terrorize the population, threaten a massacre and have imposed the Islamic law. This is what was reported to Fides Agency by Mgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro, vicar emeritus of Aleppo, who received an alarming report by the faithful Christians of Aleppo. This has become a pattern that repeats itself and that in recent weeks has focused on a number of Christian villages: armed guerrillas penetrate into the village, terrorize civilians, commit kidnappings, kill, sow destruction. "In Kanayé Salafi militants and the jihadists of 'Jabhat al-Nousra' have imposed on the pastor not to ring bells. Women must not go out on the street bare-headed, but must be veiled. And if they do not obey these orders, the threat is massacre", reads a note of Msr. Nazzaro, sent to Fides.


"We are facing what they have already done in the nearby village of Ghassanieh for over a year. In Ghassanieh they warned the residents to leave the village immediately, otherwise they would have killed them, and they got the desired result: to occupy the village with what Christians possessed. In Kanayé, they have not imposed on the population to leave but to live according to the Islamic law". According to the vicar emeritus, "this could be the first step: tomorrow they will force them to convert to Islam".

Earlier in the year the “moderate” Islamist rebels of a “Free” Syrian Army brigade who were occupying Qunaya beheaded the town’s Marian shrine. Now Qunaya has passed into the hands of an even more aggressive group of extremists affiliated to al-Qaeda.
Earlier in the year the “moderate” Islamist rebels of a “Free” Syrian Army brigade who were occupying Qunaya beheaded the town’s Marian shrine. Now Qunaya has passed into the hands of an even more aggressive group of extremists affiliated to al-Qaeda.
The remains of a monk's tomb which was desecrated in the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Qara recently when al-Qaeda radicals rampaged through the area.
The remains of a monk's tomb which was desecrated in the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Qara recently when al-Qaeda radicals rampaged through the area.

In recent days, Fr. George Louis, Greek-Catholic parish priest of the village of Qara, which has been devastated and burned, explained to Fides: "Maalula, Sednaya, Sadad, Qara and Deir Atieh, Nebek: armed jihadists target a village, they invade it, kill people, burn and devastate it. For civilians, Christian or non-Christians, life is always more difficult. The foreign militia act out of the control of our Syrian Free Syrian Army (FSA) compatriots, who instead respect everyone, and they do not want to raze the entire country". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/12/2013) Original article here

From Disaster to Calamity

From Qara to Der Atieh and all across the Qalamoun region of Syria al-Qaeda are making their destruction.

Dr. Ala’a Wajih Aleed, who was killed by al-Qaeda rebels while doing his job in the hospital of Der Atieh. Dr. Ala’a was a native of Sadad scene of an earlier massacre against Christians.
Dr. Ala’a Wajih Aleed, who was killed by al-Qaeda rebels while doing his job in the hospital of Der Atieh. Dr. Ala’a was a native of Sadad scene of an earlier massacre against Christians.

In Qara the Islamist “Free” Syrian Army were routed by the more extreme rebels and so al-Qaeda affiliated groups overran the town at which time 35 Christian families took refuge in the church to pray. “The gate of the church was hit. Armed fighters entered with covered face, long hair, not Syrians, it was not clear what nationality they belonged to. They said: we want to kill you all, Christian dogs. And we will burn this idolatrous place". At that point, one of the parishioners, Emile speaking in Arabic, began boldly to negotiate with the leader of the group, citing verses from the Koran, saying that Islam respects Christians and other minorities. "The man replied that he would ask his boss to decide our fate and leads his men out of the building", says Fr. George. Meanwhile, the priest and the faithful leave the church, and all flee in the alleys of the old town. They go on the motorway and join other refugees, reaching the village of Der Atieh Here they receive warm hospitality from the local Christians of other denominations: the priest and the Greek - Orthodox faithful welcome them with great generosity. Meanwhile, even Der Atieh ends up in the crosshairs of jihadists (see Fides 25/11/2013). The militiamen begin a "manhunt" and take Christians hostage. "We hid in the basement for 4 days and 4 nights, without food, water, electricity", says Fr. Louis. "After a night of prayer, we decided to escape. We reached Sadad, another martyred city (see Fides 31/10/2013). Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh and the faithful who returned to the city welcomed us with love and kindness". Medical staff at the hospital in Der Atied were murdered by the al-Qaeda affiliated rebels including the killing of Dr Ala’a Wajih  Aleed, a Christian, and native of the town of Sadad, scene of an earlier massacre against Christians.  Later on in the town of Adra an even greater massacre took place against the townspeople and again the local hospital was attacked. One of the doctors who were executed there was a Christian, Dr. George Makhoul, who was beheaded,

Burnt human remains in the town of Der Athie.
Burnt human remains in the town of Der Athie.

the rebels suspended his severed head from a tree outside the hospital. 

 

Meanwhile, the situation is dramatic in Qara. After days of fighting, there is rubble everywhere. Many homes and roads were mined with explosives. The Greek Catholic church of St. Michael was devastated and burned. Other Catholic Orthodox churches in Der Athie suffered the same fate as well as some mosques: is a warning to moderate Muslims.

 

Fr. George explains: "These are extremist foreign fighters, who want to sow hatred and sectarian violence , wanton destruction, no respect for civilians. I am not in the FSA. We do nothing but pray. In this exodus, we tried the beautiful experience of solidarity and affection between Catholic and Orthodox Christians". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 28/11/2013)


0 Comments

Mon

16

Dec

2013

From Disaster to Calamity

From Qara to Der Atieh and all across the Qalamoun region of Syria al-Qaeda are making their destruction.

Dr. Ala’a Wajih Aleed, who was killed by al-Qaeda rebels while doing his job in the hospital of Der Atieh. Dr. Ala’a was a native of Sadad scene of an earlier massacre against Christians.
Dr. Ala’a Wajih Aleed, who was killed by al-Qaeda rebels while doing his job in the hospital of Der Atieh. Dr. Ala’a was a native of Sadad scene of an earlier massacre against Christians.

In Qara the Islamist “Free” Syrian Army were routed by the more extreme rebels and so al-Qaeda affiliated groups overran the town at which time 35 Christian families took refuge in the church to pray. “The gate of the church was hit. Armed fighters entered with covered face, long hair, not Syrians, it was not clear what nationality they belonged to. They said: we want to kill you all, Christian dogs. And we will burn this idolatrous place". At that point, one of the parishioners, Emile speaking in Arabic, began boldly to negotiate with the leader of the group, citing verses from the Koran, saying that Islam respects Christians and other minorities. "The man replied that he would ask his boss to decide our fate and leads his men out of the building", says Fr. George. Meanwhile, the priest and the faithful leave the church, and all flee in the alleys of the old town. They go on the motorway and join other refugees, reaching the village of Der Atieh Here they receive warm hospitality from the local Christians of other denominations: the priest and the Greek - Orthodox faithful welcome them with great generosity. Meanwhile, even Der Atieh ends up in the crosshairs of jihadists (see Fides 25/11/2013). The militiamen begin a "manhunt" and take Christians hostage. "We hid in the basement for 4 days and 4 nights, without food, water, electricity", says Fr. Louis. "After a night of prayer, we decided to escape. We reached Sadad, another martyred city (see Fides 31/10/2013). Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh and the faithful who returned to the city welcomed us with love and kindness". Medical staff at the hospital in Der Atied were murdered by the al-Qaeda affiliated rebels including the killing of Dr Ala’a Wajih  Aleed, a Christian, and native of the town of Sadad, scene of an earlier massacre against Christians.  Later on in the town of Adra an even greater massacre took place against the townspeople and again the local hospital was attacked. One of the doctors who were executed there was a Christian, Dr. George Makhoul, who was beheaded,

Burnt human remains in the town of Der Athie.
Burnt human remains in the town of Der Athie.

the rebels suspended his severed head from a tree outside the hospital. 

 

Meanwhile, the situation is dramatic in Qara. After days of fighting, there is rubble everywhere. Many homes and roads were mined with explosives. The Greek Catholic church of St. Michael was devastated and burned. Other Catholic Orthodox churches in Der Athie suffered the same fate as well as some mosques: is a warning to moderate Muslims.

 

Fr. George explains: "These are extremist foreign fighters, who want to sow hatred and sectarian violence , wanton destruction, no respect for civilians. I am not in the FSA. We do nothing but pray. In this exodus, we tried the beautiful experience of solidarity and affection between Catholic and Orthodox Christians". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 28/11/2013)


3 Comments

Mon

16

Dec

2013

For Caritas Lebanon, "thousands of Syrian refugees could die from the cold and the snow"

The refugee situation in the Bekaa Valley (eastern Lebanon) is "terrible, said Mgr Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon. In addition to cold and hunger, people could die from fires caused by makeshift stoves. Yesterday, a one-year-old child died in a fire in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon. Caritas calls on people to remember at Christmas Syria's more than 1.3 million war refugees. Read full article here


3 Comments

Wed

11

Dec

2013

Metropolitan Philip declines invitation to Whitehouse because of Syria

Metropolitan Philip's Letter to President Obama

Metropolitan Philip tells the president while he does have the joy of Christmas, he does not have the peace of Christmas because of Syria.

The President and Mrs. Obama; 

The White House; 

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; 

Washington D.C.  20500  

 

Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama,

 

Greetings and best wishes to you and to your two precious daughters in the spirit of this Holy Christmas season. I was honored to receive your invitation to attend a White House holiday reception on Friday, December 6th, 2013.

 

I remember fondly my attendance at the White House reception two years ago. The photograph which we took together on that auspicious occasion continues to adorn my office. Unfortunately Mr. President, I did not attend your holiday reception this year because while I do have the joy of Christmas, I do not have the peace of Christmas. This is the peace which the angels proclaimed on that Holy Night "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14). Although I am Lebanese by birth and a proud American citizen for the past fifty-seven years, I received my secondary education in the cities of Homs and Damascus, Syria.

 

Mr. President I do not have the peace of Christmas because there is no peace either in Lebanon or in Syria. During the time which I spent in Syria as a student and secretary to the late Patriarch Alexandros Tahan, I ate the bread of Syria, I drank the water of Syria, I breathed the air of Syria and I enjoyed the most generous hospitality of the Syrian people.

 

No Mr. President, I do not have the peace of Christmas while two of my brother archbishops Boulos Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim are still in captivity in northern Syria with no news since their abduction. Actually Mr. President, we do not know whether they are alive or dead. Two weeks ago, Mr. President, twelve of our Orthodox nuns were abducted from the convent of St. Thekla of Maaloula, Syria. These nuns are innocent women who care for some orphans in the convent. These peaceful women do not have arms and do not fight but pray for peace every day and night. I contacted the State Department and spoke to Ambassador Ford who promised me that he is doing everything possible to gain the release of the two abducted Archbishops and the nuns, but to no avail.

 

Recently a video appeared on Al-Jazeera network which reportedly showed the nuns and the Abbess of the convent, Mother Pelagia in captivity, and she said that they were living in a villa. What a mockery! If the abductors wanted the nuns to escape the bombardment of Maaloula, they could have sent them to the Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, which can accommodate one hundred nuns. We know the truth Mr. President. The truth is that the video was made under extreme psychological pressure, which these nuns are enduring every day. There is every reason to fear for their safety.

 

Finally Mr. President, anything that you can do as the leader of the free world to stop the bloodshed and destruction in Syria will be very deeply appreciated. May the peace of Christmas which this broken world does not understand dwell in your hearts and in the hearts of your family forever.

 

Sincerely yours, 

Metropolitan PHILIP  (Saliba)

Primate

The Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Video of Metropolitan Philip's December 8 Homily at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Brooklyn, New York

Video of the sermon delivered on December 8th by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church for North America, with remarks on the abducted nuns of Maaloula.  View here


4 Comments

Sat

07

Dec

2013

Priest from Maaloula: "The Rebels are Burning the Town"

"Aramaic Maaloula is gone. That's it. It's gone."

The following extracts are from an article in Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper, translation in English courtesy of Notes on Arab Orthodox. Read the full article here

“The people of Maaloula only wanted to keep their churches. Historic, Aramaic Maaloula is gone. That's it. It's gone." He affirms that the expulsion of Maaloula's residents comes within the context of a plan to expel the Christians from the Middle East, drawing attention to the fact that the rebels targeted [the Christian villages of] Sadad, Deir Attiyeh, Nabak and now Maaloula.”

Maaloula Graphic Video uploaded by Terrorists

Warning: Graphic and sectarian orientated video uploaded by terrorists showing the bodies of dead soldiers and protection militias (some decapitated) who had been trying to defend the town of Maaloula. Click here to view


18 Comments

Sat

07

Dec

2013

Prayer vigil at our Lady of Sednaya Convent

Nuns and Orphans Pray for Maaloula 05/12/2013

Candles were light, hymns sung, icons processed and bells rang in prayer at the Convent of Our Lady at the nearby town of Saydnya where the nuns and orphans gathered in prayer for Maaloula, its kidnapped nuns and its dispersed population. The intercession of Our Land of Saydnya was sought for the protection of the 11 Nuns and 3 lay women held captive by Takfiri rebels in Yabroud and also for the kidnapped Bishops and priests of Aleppo and for all others held captive by terrorists in Syria.


3 Comments

Sat

07

Dec

2013

Syrian Rebels Demand 1,000 Prisoner Releases to Free Kidnapped Nuns

An Icon depicting St Marina of Antioch slaying a deamon with a hammer while being held in captivity
An Icon depicting St Marina of Antioch slaying a deamon with a hammer while being held in captivity

The ''Free Qalamoun'' brigade claimed responsibility for the recent abduction of the 11 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns and 3 lay women from the Saint Tecla Orthodox monastery in the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula, in the southern Qalamoun region on Monday 2 December. They are said to be seeking the release of 1,000 female prisoners by the Syrian government. A spokesman for the kidnappers said the swap offer is being made jointly with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat an Nusra militia. It was claimed the proposal has already been transmitted to the regime via the Vatican ''after Saint Tecla Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf spoke to the Holy See on a satellite phone''. 

 

Qatar & Al Jazera

 

A video released Friday shows the group of nuns abducted by Syrian rebels from the town of Maaloula thanking their captors for "protecting" them. The opposition supporting news channel Al Jazera Arabic (a Qatari owned TV station) aired the footage, It is obvious the video was obtained under duress. It was noticeable in the video that none of the nuns were wearing their pectoral crosses as would be normal for nuns of the Eastern Church. In the mean time a high ranking Lebanese security official was dispatched, by the President of Lebanon, to Qatar to seek Qatar’s assistance in negotiating the release of the nuns on account of the Emirate's strong links with some of the armed opposition groups in Syria. 

Patriarch John X: We Need Concrete Action, Not Words

"Our appeal to the international community: Although we are grateful for all the feelings of solidarity, we no longer need denunciation, condemnations, or "feelings of concern" about the assault on human dignity that is occurring, because all this is engraved in the conscience of every one of us. Today, however, we need concrete actions, not words!"

Read a transcript of the full appeal here


H.B. Patriarch John Xof Antioch


12 Comments

Wed

04

Dec

2013

Appeals from Rome, Antioch and Jerusalem for the abducted Nuns of Maaloula as terrorists torch the town

On Monday 2nd December, terrorists stormed the convent St. Tekla in the Christian town of Maaloula and abducted the nuns, they were taken to the nearby rebel controlled town of Yabrud and are said to be held by rebels inside a church in that town.

Update: Terrorist rebels hold nuns hostage in Syria. Report from Russia Today News 05/12/2013

Wednesday 4th terrorists in Maaloula have commenced the  systematic torching of all the of Christian owned

On Monday 2nd, terrorists stormed the convent St. Tekla  in Maaloula and abducted the nuns, they were taken to the nearby rebel controlled town of Yabrud
On Monday 2nd, terrorists stormed the convent St. Tekla in Maaloula and abducted the nuns, they were taken to the nearby rebel controlled town of Yabrud

Appeals from Rome, Antioch and Jerusalem for the abducted Nuns of Maaloula

 

"I would now like to invite you all to pray for the nuns of the Greek-Orthodox Monastery of Santa Tecla in Ma'loula, Syria, who two days ago were taken away by force by armed men. Pray for these nuns for these sisters and for all the people seized as a result of the ongoing conflict. Continue to pray and work together for peace. Let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary." (Hail Mary ...)

 

H.H. Pope Francis weekly audience Wednesday December 4th

 

"Our cry is addressed to the international community and the world's government to release Saint Taqla's nuns and orphans detained since yesterday,"...."Detaining the nuns is a blatant offensive to people's dignity and the voice of peace throughout Syria and the entire Levant,"

 

H.B. John X  Yazegi, Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch,  Monday December 2nd

 

“We condemn and strongly denounce what has been suffered by this ancient Orthodox monastery which sponsors orphans and the poor and the needy without discrimination, religious or ideological and provides humanitarian services and social care through this segment of Syrian society.....The abduction of nuns by terrorist groups is hateful and inhumane....Western and Arab nations who are supplying these terrorists must bear responsibility for the organized terrorism that targets all segments of the Syrian Arab state seeking to  destroy and sabotage the country and abuse the unit of its people.....Some Western countries that claim concern for the Christian presence in the Middle East bear  responsibility for the displacement of Christians because they support these extremist groups whose goal is to drive Christians out of their country and the destruction of religious brotherhood that is a characteristic of our region .....The world must realize that what is happening in Syria is not an Arab Spring pursuant to achieving a meaningful democratic civil state but it is an old scheme that aims to empty the region of Christians.”

 

H.E. Theodosios Hanna,  Archbishop of Sabastia, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Rev. Mother Verona at the Sednaya Convent confirms 11 nuns and 3 girls taken from Maalula against their will. Arabic only

Russia Urges Release of Abducted Orthodox Nuns in Syria

MOSCOW, December 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church have demanded the release of a group of nuns reportedly captured by Islamist rebels at an ancient convent in Syria. Read full article here

The plot to destroy Eastern Christianity is now in full progress

“Every week we receive news that bandits have destroyed a Christian monastery or church, kidnapped or killed a cleric, raped a Christian woman and that Christian families have been ousted from their houses,” Read more here

 

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate

The Russian Orthodox Church has warned of a “genocide” against Christians and other religious minorities, urging the international community to take action.

 

On the last day of his official visit to the Patriarchate of Antioch, H.H. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow visited the Balamand Monastery, Lebanon with his late brother Patriarch His Beatitude Ignatius IV  of Antioch and fellow orthodox clergy. 15/11/2011
On the last day of his official visit to the Patriarchate of Antioch, H.H. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow visited the Balamand Monastery, Lebanon with his late brother Patriarch His Beatitude Ignatius IV of Antioch and fellow orthodox clergy. 15/11/2011
On the last day of his official visit to the Patriarchate of Antioch H.H. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow made a courtesy call at the Maronite Catholic Patriarchal residence in Bkerke, Lebanon to meet the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches. 15/11/2013
On the last day of his official visit to the Patriarchate of Antioch H.H. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow made a courtesy call at the Maronite Catholic Patriarchal residence in Bkerke, Lebanon to meet the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches. 15/11/2013