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    » 06/18/2013, 00.00

    LEBANON - SYRIA

    Beirut: appeal for Catholic-Orthodox unity and an end to the war in Syria



    The synods of the Melkite Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches got underway today in Lebanon. As the bishops pray for Mgrs Bouls Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim, abducted on 22 April, Gregory III Laham, patriarch of Antioch, criticises the Western decision to send weapons to the rebels. For the bishops, Christians in Syria and Lebanon have a duty to bear witness to the Gospel with their lives. This is the true "political action" and duty that every believer must undertake. The Melkite Church plans to set up a solidarity committee in Syria to help the needy and rebuild destroyed or damaged churches.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) - The leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches opened their respective synods today in Beirut to discuss the grave situation facing Syria's Christian communities, caught between warring Shias and Sunnis, whose conflict has now spilled over into neighbouring Lebanon. The Greek Orthodox synod is being held in Balamand Monastery. That of the Melkite Catholic Church is underway in Ain Trez Convent, in Aley District.

    Kicking off their respective meetings, Catholic and Orthodox prelates made a joint appeal for the unity of all Christians, praying for the liberation of Mgrs Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, the two bishops abducted on 22 April on the outskirts of Aleppo.

    "We are not afraid. We are living through difficult, tough conditions in the region, this is the truth that no one can ignore," said Mgr John X Yazigi, Greek orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and brother of Mgr Bouls Yazigi, in an interview with Lebanese newspaper Daily Star just before the start of the Synod Assembly. "We are children of faith and courage; we cling to the land where we live, and we carry the message [of God] in our hearts, and we will continue to do so bravely and without fear."

    The bishop explained that his brother was still alive and held in Turkey, but that he had not so far had any direct contact with the kidnappers.

    From Ain Trez, home of the Melkite Catholic Church, Gregory III Laham, patriarch of Antioch, slammed the decision by the United States and some other European countries to send weapons to the rebels. Because of this move, the population "will face more problems" than in the past.

    According to the prelate, the position of Western countries is incomprehensible. "It's as if the world is no longer able to understand anything save the language of arms, war, destruction, violence and terrorism."

    Weapons, he added, only "fuel the violence and hatred, and lead to more killing, destruction, displacement and more suffering-economically, socially, health-wise-for families, young people, students and workers".

    For this reason, Laham appealed to the international community for an immediate cessation of all arms transfers, and for the world's major powers to work together towards a political solution rather than contributing to the "division" of the Arab world along political, social, religious and tribal lines.

    Speaking to his bishops, the patriarch outlined the Church's plan to create a central "solidarity committee" in Syria to coordinate and carry out relief work, as well as monitor congregations and register damaged or destroyed churches.

    He also proposed the establishment of subcommittees in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and other Arab and European countries to support the central committee in its work.

    "We hope that our brother bishops will help us in this endeavour ... and in so doing, we hope to be prepared, practically, to face the challenges of the future which require our presence and guidance as Christians," Laham said.

    For Gregory, "Solidarity springs from the faith that we are one Church, one body, one Christian family, one nation, and this faith translates into good works and especially into proactive love toward those in need, and the one in need is the child of the church."

    "This," he insisted, "is the true political action and the sacred duty which we must fulfil with daring, zeal, love, dedication, sincerity, and worthiness."

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    See also

    13/03/2014 SYRIA - LEBANON
    Greek-Catholic bishops call for a united free, democratic and pluralistic Syria
    The meeting of Greek-Catholic Bishops' Conference of Syria was held in Lebanon because of the situation in Syria. In a statement, the prelates call for closeness and solidarity with the victims, urging people not to forget the bishops, priests and faithful who were abducted. Noting that at least 100 churches have been damaged or destroyed, they offer their best wishes to Pope Francis and call upon people not to let "the flame of hope" die.

    09/08/2011 SYRIA
    The Pope's appeal and the fears of Christians in Syria
    The nightmare is that Syria will become another Iraq, which explains why many Christian leaders seem to support the regime of President Assad. Benedict XVI's call for dialogue and renunciation of violence by both sides was not reported in Syrian media.

    23/04/2013 SYRIA
    Pope praying for the release of Mgrs Ibrahim and Boulos al-Yaziji
    Speaking to AsiaNews, Archbishop Jeanbart calls on the West to ends its "indifference". All Catholic bishops in Aleppo are "saddened and concerned" about the kidnapping of the two Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox prelates. Kidnappers are thought to be foreign fighters. Even the Orthodox Patriarchate in Moscow shares the pain of Syria's Churches.

    30/11/2013 VATICAN - SYRIA
    Pope calls for "a just and lasting solution" to the war in Syria and respect for religious freedom in the Middle East
    "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.

    03/01/2006 LEBANON - SYRIA
    Sfeir and Ignatius IV preach peace in beleaguered Mid-East

    The Maronite Patriarch drew attention to the urgent need to distance oneself from hate and the language of death, while his Greek-Orthodox counterpart in Antioch criticized those "who preach collaboration and do nothing but commit massacres and murders".





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