Beirut (AsiaNews) - The abduction of twelve nuns from their convent in Maaloula (Syria) is a sign that "Arab civilisation is in crisis," said on Monday Bishop Boulos Matar, the Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, during a Mass in Beirut's Mar Takla (St Thecla) Church.
The service was part of an ecumenical prayer meeting held for the nuns taken hostage by a Muslim fundamentalist group fighting the Syrian regime. It was organised by Lumière d'Orient, a channel owned by the Télé-Lumière group, whose CEO, Jacques Kallassi, spoke at the meeting.
Bishops Boulos Matar and Roland Abou Jaoudé (Maronite), Georges Saliba (Syriac Orthodox), Michel Kassarji (Chaldean), Cyrille Bustros (Greek Catholic) and Yuhanna Battah (Syriac Catholic), as well as many priests from all these Churches were present at the event.
In his homily, Bishop Boulos Matar raised the very serious issue of the "crisis of civilisation" that marks military developments in Syria.
In his view, one of the most serious aspects of this crisis was the abduction of cloistered nuns from their convent, and that of Bishops Boulos Yazigi and Yuhanna Ibrahim.
"In light of what is happening," the bishop said, "can we not see clearly that a serious crisis of civilisation is affecting developments in Syria and other countries in the region? These developments cannot be explained other than by the loss of all spiritual sensitivity by the kidnappers, who have no sense of the values professed by their religion. . . ."
"What is happening cannot be described but as a frank and direct rejection of God's will. No Arab can accept this sign of the times, this crisis of values. Since when do we take women hostage? This action is in total contradiction with the dignity of Arab civilisation and its noble reputation."
"Although these are individual actions," the Maronite Archbishop of Beirut added, "the fact remains that we cannot separate errors by a few from the broader context in which they occur, for they raise direct questions about the relationship that ought to exist between Christians and Muslims in the Mashreq and the world."
For his part, Télé-Lumière CEO Jacques Kallassi in his speech stressed that "in addition to the war spreading, we must fear that a whole generation will grow up believing in nothing but money, weapons, force and domination."
What is more, "we are not really afraid of being forced to leave. We are afraid of what would happen if we left this region," he concluded.