Sat

30

Nov

2013

Pope calls for "a just and lasting solution" to the war in Syria and respect for religious freedom in the Middle East

Article from AsiaNews.it a Catholic media outlet focused towards Asia and the NearEast

"We are not resigned to imagine a Middle East without Christians," Pope Francis told Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites. On the feast day of Saint Andrew, a thought goes to the Orthodox Churches and Patriarch Bartholomew.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Today's meeting between Pope Francis and Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham saw a renewed call for "a just and lasting solution" to the Syrian conflict, an exhortation to respect religious freedom and the reassertion of the value of the Eastern Catholic Churches, also in view of their ecumenical journey. The head of the Church of Antioch was accompanied by the Greek-Melkite Synod and about 350 faithful.

 

"My thoughts," the pope said, "go immediately to our brothers and sisters in Syria, who have endured a 'great tribulation ' for a long time. I pray for those who lost their life and for their loved ones. May the Lord dry the tears of his children. May the closeness of the whole Church comfort their anguish and keep them from despair. We firmly believe in the power of prayer and reconciliation," he added, "and we renew our heartfelt plea to those in power for an end to violence so that through dialogue we may arrive to a just and lasting solution to a conflict that has already caused too much harm. Specifically, I call for mutual respect among the various religious denominations to ensure everyone a future based on inalienable human rights, including freedom of religion. For centuries, your Church has been able to live peacefully with other religions and is called to play a role of brotherhood in the Middle East."

"Let me say this again: We are not resigned to imagine a Middle East without Christians. Still, many of your brothers and sisters have emigrated, and many representatives from the communities in the diaspora are present here. I encourage them to keep strong their roots in the Melkite human and spiritual tradition, preserving their Greek-Catholic identity everywhere, because the whole Church needs the heritage of the Christian East, of which you are also heirs."

 

Funeral in the Christian village of Blaat for 5 members of one family who were killed when a shell hit their car in a suberb of Damascus on Nov 10th.
Funeral in the Christian village of Blaat for 5 members of one family who were killed when a shell hit their car in a suberb of Damascus on Nov 10th.

"You," he said again, "are a visible sign for all of our Eastern brethren of the wished for communion with the Successor of Peter. On this feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle, brother of Saint Peter, my thoughts go out to His Holiness Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Orthodox Churches. Let us pray that the Lord may help us continue our ecumenical journey, faithful to the principles of the Second Vatican Council. May He always help you cooperate in evangelisation, nurturing ecumenical and interfaith awareness."

 

"Divisions in our communities seriously hinder the life of the Church, communion and witness. I therefore join the Patriarch and the bishops in this effort, so that they may contribute this way to building the Body of Christ. But I would also like to encourage priests, men and women religious and lay people to offer their essential contribution."

 

Original article here

Pope Francis calls for freedom of religion in the Middle East

Within the Middle East region it is a noted fact that western governments have consistently made alliances with countries which are directly implicated in active discrimination against the indigenous Christian community be that Israel or the petro-dollar regimes of the region.

________________________________

 

"Christians in the Middle East feel left to the mercy of fate by Western countries and fear for their future. It is necessary to take steps for the protection of Christian population in the Middle East region. In particular, it is necessary to implement the principle proposed by the 2011 European Parliament Resolution whereby the aid of a particular country is possible only if the safety of the Christians in that country is guaranteed."


From an address by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations. Read his full remarks here

Thirty four years apart two martyr priests remembered.

Hieromartyr Father Fadi Jamil Haddad

St. Elias Church, Qatana, Damascus

Fr. Fadi Jamil Haddad was the Antiochian Orthodox priest pastor of the church of St. Elias in Qatana, Damascus province. On October 19th 2012 he was kidnapped by an unidentified armed gang while carrying a ransom for the release of one of his kidnapped parishioners. During the current conflict in Syria Fr. Fadi had worked as a mediator and reconciliator in his area helping all in need and working for the release of many abducted persons. His body was found on the 24th of October 2012 in the Jaramana neighbourhood (north of Damascus) not far from the place where he had been kidnapped, on October 19, his body was horribly tortured, the flesh had been flayed from part of his body and his eyes gouged out. Such torture is a hall mark of Saudi and other gulf region funded extremists. Fr. Fadi's funeral was bombed by a rebel group, the explosion killing two government soldiers and injuring several of the mourners.

 

St. Philoumenos the Hieromartyr

of Jacob’s Well, Nablus 

St. Philoumenos was a Greek Cypriot who gave 46 years service to the Church in the Holy Land. He was Abbot of the Monastery of Jacob’s Well in Nablus, Occupied Palestine, where the Lord conversed with the Samaritan Woman in the Gospel. On November 29th 1979, while St. Philoumenos was serving Vespers, a mob of Jewish Israeli extremists entered into the Church and tortured the priest to death.  The extremists chopped of the three blessing fingers of the priest’s right hand and then smashed in his face using an axe to make the sign of the cross on his head. Israeli authorities never prosecuted anyone for this barbaric crime. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem glorified St. Philoumenos to number among the ranks of the Saints on the 30th of August 2008. His memory is honoured annually on November 29th coinciding with United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People .



38 Comments

Mon

25

Nov

2013

Over 60 Churches and Monasteries Destroyed in Syria

News item via the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

Militants in Syria have destroyed over 60 Christian churches and monasteries, and more than 70 thousand Orthodox residents of Homs, and more than a half the Christians of Aleppo have left their homes, reports Interfax.

 

These statistics was given by the ambassador of Syria to Russia Riad Haddad at the meeting of the inter-factional deputy group in defense of Christian values, held by the State Duma in Moscow.

 

According to R. Haddad, in recent days the Damascus quarters of Kasaa and Bab Touma, both inhabited mainly, by Christians, have been subjected to regular bombardments by the terrorists: over 50 shells have been fired in all.

 

He has thanked Russia for its aid to the Syrian people, collected in dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.

 

Original here


21 Comments

Sun

24

Nov

2013

Maronite Prelate in Syria: Only Project We Have Is Building a Bigger Cemetery

Article via Al-Bushra the Latin Chaplaincy to Arab Americans

Archbishop Nassar Calls For Christian Solidarity, Ecumenical Collaboration as War Rages On

 

Christians in Damascus are clinging to hope despite the rising death toll in the ongoing conflict in Syria.

 

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus pleaded for support and solidarity to Christians in Syria.

 

“There has been war [in Syria] for three years, and it is destroying the whole country,” he said. “The people feel lost and without support.”

 


As of now, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have released figures stating that 110,371 people have died in the conflict, many of them innocent civilians, including women and children. Archbishop Nassar told Aid to the Church in Need that the only project the Maronite Church has is to “build a bigger cemetery.”

 

The Maronite prelate expressed his hope for a brighter future for the Syrian population and will focus on rebuilding efforts when the war is over, especially in collaboration with other faiths in the region.

 

“For 14 centuries we have lived in its shadow. If we want to continue to live in the future, then it can only be together. That is a great challenge, but we can succeed in it,” he said.

 

Archbishop Nassar called on the world’s Christians to continue to pray for Syria. 

 

Original article here

An image of a group burial from the Christian town of  Sadad in the aftermath of the massacre and destruction perpetrated by western backed FSA rebels and al-Qaeda
An image of a group burial from the Christian town of Sadad in the aftermath of the massacre and destruction perpetrated by western backed FSA rebels and al-Qaeda

15 Comments

Sun

24

Nov

2013

Why attack places of worship, and especially churches?

Statement by Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of the Melkite greek-Catholic Church

Syriac Orthodox Church of Our Lady Shrine of the  Belt (Oum al-Zennar )Bustan Diwan, Homs, today it is now in ruin following the takeover of this Christian district by armed rebels. The Church has been a place of worship since 59 A.D. Click to enlarge
Syriac Orthodox Church of Our Lady Shrine of the Belt (Oum al-Zennar )Bustan Diwan, Homs, today it is now in ruin following the takeover of this Christian district by armed rebels. The Church has been a place of worship since 59 A.D. Click to enlarge

The Syrian crisis is severely affecting various sectors of civilian life and the number of victims of this “world” war is growing day by day. In this war against Syria the nature of the so-called opposition no longer resembles what it appeared to be on 16 March 2011 at the outset of the crisis.

 

Evidence of that can be found in the statements of envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Mr Kofi Anan published in several European newspapers in September 2013, that there are some two thousand foreign groups fighting in Syria. They are all Salafist fundamentalists and extremists, relentlessly killing in cruel fashion in the name of Islam, although Islam has nothing to do with them or they with it.

 

These groups have committed the most cruel crimes and bestial acts that have horrified the minds of those who saw them on television or on modern social communication media and hurt the feelings of every man, woman and child both at home and abroad. It represents a return to the darkest episodes of antiquity and has even outstripped them.…

Those hordes have destroyed and laid waste places of worship (mosques and churches), and looted statues, furnishings, icons of Our Lord, the Virgin Mary and the saints.

Omar Azba (Garba) a member of the Islamist FSA (“Free” Syrian Army) seen here smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Christian Village of Yakubiyah, Idlib. Click on the image for more information about Yakubiyah
Omar Azba (Garba) a member of the Islamist FSA (“Free” Syrian Army) seen here smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Christian Village of Yakubiyah, Idlib. Click on the image for more information about Yakubiyah

Those hordes have destroyed and laid waste places of worship (mosques and churches), and looted statues, furnishings, icons of Our Lord, the Virgin Mary and the saints.

 

Never before in its history has Syria experienced any such monstrous, criminal acts. All Christian and Muslim citizens used to live in harmony, affection, solidarity, mutual help, national community … such that it was considered an Arab and world model.

 

We wonder and ask them, why do you commit these actions? Why destroy mosques and churches?

Video: FSA ("Free" Syrian Army) destroying a Shia Muslim house of prayer

We wonder at these deeds and address the doers, reminding them of their humanity and the fact that they are created in the image and likeness of God, they are precious in God’s eyes and we acknowledge their worth, which is common to us all... We wonder and ask them, why do you commit these actions? Why destroy mosques and churches?

They know very well that our churches are schools of peace and our institutions fields of service and dedication and that we have no political party, no hatred in our hearts, no vengeance against anyone whatsoever. On the contrary, we are agents of peace calling for love, living together, solidarity, reconciliation and forgiveness...

In writing this appeal, it is not at all my intention to condemn or judge those who destroy our churches: God alone is Judge. Instead we forgive them and pray for them and their salvation, imploring God to open their eyes to the beauty of faith, love, friendship, and tenderness that fills the pages of the Qur’an in every verse - the compassion of God for all. We advise and request them to return to their own countries and there live a humane, worthy life in their families and among their own people.

We write these lines and report the facts about the destruction of mosques and especially churches, and the inhumane acts, so that the world can wake up and open its eyes to the realisation of the true brutal reality of these things reported, and work to stop them and halt all kinds of killing and violence, for the victim of all this is man, created in the image and likeness of God.

 

We call upon everyone to coordinate their efforts and those of Arab and other countries to prevent such cruelties against the dignity of man, because they are war crimes against humanity. It is not always the perpetrator who is responsible, but the one who does not work to prevent and condemn them, but rather encourages, incites and funds them with money and weapons and fills hearts with hatred and enmity...

We decided to give the information contained in this appeal to highlight the brutality of these acts. We hope for the world’s conscience to be aroused to the realisation of this state of affairs and for everyone to agree to walk along the path of peace to Geneva II to build a new world where love and the values of our holy faith reign, as this should be the road for all of us Christian and Muslim politicians and leaders, and Eastern and Western heads of state. That is how we can respond to Pope Francis’s appeal, "No more war." That is why we are publishing these gloomy, black lists in the Appendix (attached).

It is not always the perpetrator who is responsible, but the one who does not work to prevent and condemn them, but rather encourages, incites and funds them with money and weapons

We extend this appeal with an open evangelical Christian spirit of love to the conscience of those who have committed and continue to commit these actions and attacks, especially against Christian places of worship. We appeal to the conscience of those who stand behind them and even to the conscience of the whole world.

 

We hope and pray for the cessation of these actions that are destroying not just places of worship, but the image of God in man and are causing all kinds of suffering, disaster, grief and destruction.

 

I ask my dear faithful not to allow forgiveness to give way to hatred in your hearts. Resist feelings of fear, anxiety, frustration and discouragement despite the various reasons for them of which we are all aware. Face up to this with patience and faith. Do not leave; do not abandon your homeland Syria, which has been rightly called the cradle of Christianity! We have our origins and roots here, going back over two thousand years of history.

 

I hope that anyone reading this letter may accept it in a positive, civilised way.

 

We pray, Christ our God, confirm the holy Orthodox faith in our churches and monasteries unto ages of ages! Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance. Grant peace to Syria and to the world. And keep thy faithful!

 

Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, let us invoke her intercession and protection, and let us entrust one another and all our lives unto Christ our God! Deliver us, O Virgin, from every temptation, barbarian invasion and peril that we deserve due to our sins.

 

With my love and blessing

 

Gregorios III

Patriarch

 

Original here


40 Comments

Sat

23

Nov

2013

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross replies to Critics

As part of her international tour for the Mussalaha (Reconciliation) initiative in Syria, Levant TV interviewed Mother Agnes Mary of the Cross during her visit to the UK.

Mother Agnes Mary of the Cross is spokesperson for the Catholic Media Centre of the Diocese of Homs, Hama and Yabroud in Syria. She is also one of the main representative of the “Mussalaha” Reconciliation inter-faith Initiative, which has the support of all Syrian’s religious communities.


In this interview, she replies to many of the critics attacking her initiative and she reveals some of her plans to help restoring peace in Syria, such as:


•    to support conflict resolution through negotiation and implementation of a democratic process.
•    to stop the flow of weapons to Syria.
•    to stigmatize the war methods that are against the Geneva Convention.
•    to restrain interference from abroad in the Syrian conflict.
•    to furnish honest information about the Syrian conflict.
•    to support new political parties that are proliferating and giving new shape to the Syrian political landscape.
•    to stop the sanctions, which are harming only the civilian population.
•    to fairly distribute humanitarian aid.
•    to appeal for impartiality among the diverse NGOs working in the Syrian conflict.
•    to support a new state that will guarantee equality of citizenship and religious freedom to any religious and ethnic group.


Despite the continuing conflict in Syria, Mother Agnes Mary believes the initiative is must needed at this particular timing and it is imperative that the Mussalaha reconciliation initiative be recognised, nurtured and supported by all who believe in peace through dialogue. Original article here


4 Comments

Sat

23

Nov

2013

Syrian Religious Leaders Renew Call for Release of two Bishops

Appeal for release of Syrian bishops made at the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace which brought together over 600 religious leaders representing all historic faith traditions and every region of the world.

News via SOCM-Forum for Syriac Orthodox Christians of Malankara (Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church-under the Holy see of Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.)

At the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, in Vienna, Austria from 20 to 22 November 2013, Muslim and Christian Leaders Call for Common Action. Syrian religious leaders attending the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace called for the release of two abducted bishops in Syria. The Assembly, which serves as a venue for conflict transformation, brought more than 600 religious leaders representing all historic faith traditions and every region of the world to restore and build peace.


Each Syrian religious leader sent a strong message of support to the abducted bishops, the demand for their release, and the hope for a peaceful resolution.

The two Syriac bishops, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Bishop Boulous Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Damascus, were kidnapped in Aleppo on 22 April 2013.

"These two bishops always worked for peace and a good life for all people," H.E. Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Sohaib al-Chami, an Islamic scholar and a member of the Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council of Syria, reflected. "They kidnapped our bishops but they also took our soul, our love, and our hope. We remember their big role and work. And we hope that happiness will return to the people of Syria."

Father Samuel Gümüs, Special Representative of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, called for the immediate release of the two bishops. Father Gümüs implored, "I appeal to conscience, principles, morals and ethics of all peace lovers to spare no effort to bring about a safe and dignified release of Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulous Yazigi."


6 Comments

Sat

23

Nov

2013

Putin to discuss Syrian peace process with Pope Francis

Syrian settlement prospects will be an item on the agenda for Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on November 25.

Article from Voice of Russia Radio

  © Collage "The Voice of Russia"
© Collage "The Voice of Russia"

"The issue will be touched upon at the audience with the Pontiff," Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said.

 

Pope Francis sent a message to Putin before the G20 St. Petersburg summit of September 2013 lauding Russia's chairmanship of the Group of Twenty and opposing the use of force to settle the Syrian conflict.

 

"The message created a constructive background for discussion of the Syrian crisis at the St. Petersburg G20 meeting. Interesting and rather positive developments occurred later on, in the light of initiatives put forward by our president," the Kremlin representative observed.

 

There will be some other topical international issues on the meeting's agenda, Ushakov said. "Special attention will be given to protecting the Christian population in North Africa and the Middle East," he said.

 

Russia and the Holy See advocate the preservation of priority being given to international legal and moral fundamentals in interstate communication, the presidential aide continued.

 

"Positions on the further coordination of efforts at international organizations - the UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE - will be compared," Ushakov said.

 

This will be the third visit by the Russian head of state to the Vatican after the establishment of full-scale diplomatic relations in December 2009.

 

In the earlier period, Putin met with Pope John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and with Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

Salus Populi Romani 

Invoked for the

Protection of Syria

The Salus Populi Romani icon protected by Swiss Guards at the Vatican on the day of the prayer vigil which was attended by 100,000 people. Click to enlarge image
The Salus Populi Romani icon protected by Swiss Guards at the Vatican on the day of the prayer vigil which was attended by 100,000 people. Click to enlarge image

 

Read an article about the significance of this image which the Pope ordered to be brought in procession to the Vatican on September 7th last, where he held a 4 hour long prayer vigil for peace invoking the protection of the Salus Populi Romani for Syria. Article here.


The humanitarian tragedy of Syrian Christians: a challenge to the whole civilized world

The remarks by H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations delivered at the Colloquium on  the Serious Crisis in Syria, held in Vaduz, Lichtenstein, November 17, 2013. Read here via ORIENTAL REVIEW


18 Comments

Wed

20

Nov

2013

Russian Orthodox Church participates in international colloquium on Syrian crisis

H.S.H Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein sponsors an international colloquium on the Syrian crisis in Vaduz. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria attended.

Article from the Russian Orthodox Church official website of the Department for External Church Relations

H.S.H. Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk and H.R.H. Archduchess Gabriela von Habsburg attending the colloquium on Syria.
H.S.H. Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk and H.R.H. Archduchess Gabriela von Habsburg attending the colloquium on Syria.

On 17 November 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, who has arrived in Vaduz, the capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, took part in the international colloquium on the next steps in deep Syrian crisis sponsored by Hans-Adam II, the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein.

 

Among those attending the colloquium were Archbishop Diego Causero, apostolic nuncio to Switzerland Liechtenstein; Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria; Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, Ambassador  of Liechtenstein to the Holy See; Prince Stefan of Liechtenstein, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Liechtenstein to Germany; Archduchess Gabriela von Habsburg, former ambassador of Georgia to Germany; Mr. Alexander Aksenyonok, former Ambassador of Russia to Algeria; representatives of churches from Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

 

Metropolitan Hilarion delivered a report on humanitarian tragedy of Syrian Christians: a challenge to the entire civilized world.

DECR chairman meets with Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, UN special envoy to Syria

Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi and DECR Chairman H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi and DECR Chairman H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

The high representative of the United Nations noted a special part played by Russia in the settlement of Syrian crisis. He expressed solidarity with the position of the Moscow Patriarchate in its efforts undertaken in contacts with religious leaders of the world to stop bloodshed in Syria. Full article here


The participants exchanged opinions on many problems related to the Syrian crisis. A special session was held on the situation of Christians in Syria.

The humanitarian tragedy of Syrian Christians: a challenge to the whole civilized world

The remarks by H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations delivered at the Colloquium on  the Serious Crisis in Syria, held in Vaduz, Lichtenstein, November 17, 2013. Read here via ORIENTAL REVIEW


15 Comments

Tue

19

Nov

2013

Cardinal ministers to Syrian refugees

News item via Al-Bushra the Latin Chaplaincy to Arab-American Christians

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick travels to Lebanon to provide spiritual relief to Syrian refugees of all faiths who have fled their war-torn homeland.


4 Comments

Sat

16

Nov

2013

Situation of Christians in the Middle East is catastrophic

Article from the Russian Orthodox Church official website of the Department for External Church Relations

H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations and H.S.H. Hans-Adam II, the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein.
H.E. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations and H.S.H. Hans-Adam II, the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein.

On 16 November 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, arrived in Vaduz, the capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, to take part in the international colloquium on the Syrian crisis.

 

On the day of arrival, Metropolitan Hilarion visited the Vaduz Castle and met with Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein.

 

Metropolitan Hilarion conveyed greetings and best wishes to the reigning Prince from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

 

The DECR chairman told the Prince about his recent trip to Lebanon and about the anxiety of the Lebanese Christian politicians they have shared with him. He underscored that the situation of Christians in the Middle East is catastrophic. In certain countries one can see a full-scale persecution against Christians: many were killed, and thousands had to leave their homes.

Christians use to coexist with the Muslims in the Middle East for centuries, but the situation has changed, and radical forces are in the forefront now. The escalation of radicalism is a direct consequence of external intervention, Metropolitan Hilarion said and gave an example of Iraq, where one and a half million Christians have lived recently, but now there is only a small number of them there, while in Libya there are almost no Christians living at present.

Metropolitan Hilarion spoke of a particular pain and anxiety of the Russian Orthodox Church over the situation in Syria, where Christian population is deliberately exterminated,

Metropolitan Hilarion spoke of a particular pain and anxiety of the Russian Orthodox Church over the situation in Syria, where Christian population is deliberately exterminated, Christian churches are destroyed, and the holy sites desecrated. The DECR chairman called for the strict adherence to the recommendations given by the European Parliament to the Western countries in 2011 to render economic and political support to the Middle East countries only in exchange for the security of Christian population.

A child holds a candle and poster at prayer vigil  and protest  In Bab Touma Damascus remembering the victims of the attack on the Christian town of Sadad.
A child holds a candle and poster at prayer vigil and protest In Bab Touma Damascus remembering the victims of the attack on the Christian town of Sadad.

Unfortunately, he underscored, the resolution has remained ink on paper. Read full article here


4 Comments

Tue

12

Nov

2013

Rebels Shell Orthodox Elementary School, 9 Children Killed

Article from the Lebanese daily newspaper Al Akhbar

Funeral notices for four of the deceased children. Click to enlarge
Funeral notices for four of the deceased children. Click to enlarge

Nine children were killed and 27 people wounded when mortar rounds hit a school and a school bus in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday (11/11/2013), state television reported.

 

"The toll in the terrorist targeting of the St. John of Damascus school with mortar rounds has risen to five dead, all of them children, and 27 injured," a news alert on Syrian state television said.

 

Another four students were killed when a mortar hit the vehicle they were in, in the central Bab Sharqi district of the capital, state news agency SANA said, adding that the driver was also killed.

A childhood stolen in the name of freedom.
A childhood stolen in the name of freedom.

Metropolitan Bishop Luke Khoury, of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and the Minister of the Interior make a visit to the St. Louis Hospital to see the injured children affected by the terrorist mortar attacks on St John of Damascus School. 11/10/2013
Metropolitan Bishop Luke Khoury, of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and the Minister of the Interior make a visit to the St. Louis Hospital to see the injured children affected by the terrorist mortar attacks on St John of Damascus School. 11/10/2013

Six others inside the bus, including four more students, were wounded in the attack, SANA said.

 

Earlier, the interior minister told the official Al-Ikhbariya channel that 11 children had been hurt at the school in the majority Christian district of Qassaa, in central Damascus.

 

Both incidents took place in majority Christian district of the capital.

 

Rebel fighters arrayed in districts on the outskirts of the capital regularly launch rockets and mortar rounds at central neighborhoods, causing damage and sometimes fatalities. Read originial article here

Coverage from the funerals of the child victims of the terrorist bombing of St. John of Damascus Elementary School. Arabic only.

BBC report in English on the Damascus school and bus attack.


12 Comments

Tue

12

Nov

2013

Just Another Family

A father and his four children lost their lives when the car they were in was stuck by a mortar shell in the district of Kashkool, Damascus on Sunday the 10th of November.  The only one to survive was the mother who was hospitalised with serious injuries. The father, Girgis Elias, and his four children Eli, Tala, Peter and Nirvana, were brought back to the family village of Blaat in the Wadi al-Nasara (the valley of the Christians) for burial.

 



52 Comments

Sun

03

Nov

2013

Archbishop: Plan to Drive Christians out of Mideast is Decades-Old Western Policy

His Eminence Antionio Chedraoui, The Lebanese born, Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Mexico, Venezuela, and the Carribean speaking on Lebanon’s MTV channel.

Conference of European Jesuit Provincials

"Solutions advocating the exile or the elimination of these [Christian] communities are unacceptable."

Conference of European Jesuit Provincials: Declaration concerning Syria. Rome 25/10/2013. Read full decleration here.


4 Comments

Fri

01

Nov

2013

Open Letter to the American people from Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

Mother Agnes Mariam and Irish Noble Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire in Damascus in May 2013. Photo Susan Dirgham
Mother Agnes Mariam and Irish Noble Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire in Damascus in May 2013. Photo Susan Dirgham

Open Letter to the American people from Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

 

My dear friends,

 

As a teenager living in Belfast, I admired the American Peace Movement and many prominent figures within it. Fifty years later, two of the most inspiring people still remembered across the world are Americans: Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day.

American peace activists and civil rights workers were imprisoned, some killed. But a generation spoke and sang about love.

 

Like Mahatma Gandhi in India,  the Berrigan Brothers in the  Peace Movement and the American Civil Rights Movement show us that the path to freedom and equality is a peaceful one. This journey of transformation in the pursuit of peace and justice is a constant challenge to the entrenched powers which thrive on hatred and war; acting as a constant challenge to blind prejudice and the lies that are necessary for war.

 

In making this journey of love we must always acknowledge that those we regard as enemies are fellow human beings and we are called to love them .  If we don’t, when do the killing fields stop?

 

I first came to you from Northern Ireland to speak to you about what was happening in my country. I was met with great kindness in America. Now I write to you to about Syria.

 

We must not allow a war to go on for decades, as many did in regards to Ireland.  We must have the foresight to stand up for peace, nonviolence  and reconciliation now, before the suffering is entrenched and before prejudices and lies seep deeply into the consciousness of a new generation, acting as seeds for more yet more war.

 

I write to you to ask your help for the people of Syria.  All the people of Syria deserve your attention. Like you, they want the opportunity to live, love and labour in support of their children’s dreams.  With your efforts we can make it a bright future in a peaceful and prosperous country where love will conquer all.

 

The people of Syria are a diverse people, a courageous and generous people with a proud history of tolerance. Over many centuries, their country has welcomed millions of disparate people seeking refuge just as the United States has done.

I visited Syria in May 2013. Despite the on-going violence, I found it to be a land of hope. I met tribal and religious leaders, political dissidents and grieving parents and widows. In Syria, there are millions of ordinary folk risking their lives for a peaceful, reconciled and united Syria they can all love. 

 

Mother Agnes Mariam, one of the leaders of the Mussalaha (reconciliation) Movement in Syria, is on a speaking tour of America this November. Mother Agnes Mariam has sat at a table with the prime minister of Syria and has eaten olives with a rebel leader.  And recently she risked her life to negotiate the safe passage of thousands of civilians and of many fighters from a conflict zone. 

 

Your heroes, the heroes we all uphold, show us bridges of nonviolence and  peace must be built between people. War stems from hatred and lies. Peace requires courage, wisdom, and love. And foresight.

 

Mother Agnes is bringing to America a universal message your country knows well. She presents it through the story of Syria.  I encourage you to hear the story of Syria.

 

Peace,

Mairead Maguire

www.peacepeople.com

lst November,2013

Mother Agnes Mariam and Mairead Maguire at the Peace House Belfast N. Ireland. August 2012
Mother Agnes Mariam and Mairead Maguire at the Peace House Belfast N. Ireland. August 2012

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Fri

01

Nov

2013

Sad passing of H.E. Archbishop Kassab

Heroic Archbishop, who expelled the Italian cleric Paolo dall’Oglio from Syria, has been laid to rest.

His Beatitude Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, presides at the funeral of H.E. Msgr. Theophilus George Kassab, Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Homs and Hama, Nabek and dependencies.
His Beatitude Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, presides at the funeral of H.E. Msgr. Theophilus George Kassab, Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Homs and Hama, Nabek and dependencies.