01/28/2015, 00.00
LEBANON-MIDDLE EAST

Patriarchs of the East: Peace requires an end to terrorism, help for refugees, resolution of Israeli-Palestinian problem

by Paul Dakiki
An ecumenical meeting in Bkerke to address the difficulties faced by Christian communities. Attended by representatives of Catholic, Orthodox, Armenian, Protestant denominations. Appeal to the Arab and the international community to stop financing and arming terrorists. The need to increase aid to refugees and to hasten their return to their homes. The urgency of electing a president for Lebanon.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - A meeting of the Patriarchs and Christian leaders of the East was held yesterday in Bkerke, the seat of the Patriarchate of Lebanon to address the situation of Christians in the Middle East and ask the Arab and international community to stop supporting terrorism, aid the refugee emergency and work for their return home. The need for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis was also underscored.

Patriarch Beshara Rai said that the goal of the gathering was to study the situation of Christian refugees and that of the faithful who have decided to stay in their country, despite war and difficulties. For them, he added, it is urgent to help them secure a job, schools, housing so "they can stay in their respective countries and preserve their Christian tradition and mission."

The other goal is an appeal "to the two communities Arab and international" to come to the aid of the refugees, helping them to return home and to rebuild their houses. This can be done "by ending the war in Syria and Iraq by peaceful means, through political negotiations and a serious dialogue between the warring parties, neutralizing terrorist organizations." This can only be achieved if the Arab and the international community "cease to support [the terrorists] in financial and military terms, closing the borders where it is necessary to prevent the movement of mercenaries".

"Political and economic designs - he added - cannot justify these terrible attacks against humanity."

For the Christian patriarchs and leaders, greater efforts must be made to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, on the basis of the formula "two peoples, two states", allowing the return of refugees to their homes. "It 'obvious - said Patriarch Rai - that both the Israeli Palestinian conflict and Israeli-Arab conflict is the root cause of the misfortunes that we are experiencing today in the Middle East."

Christian leaders are asking for greater effort on the part of governments and non-governmental organizations to assist refugees and securing the release of all those who have been abducted, or detained, whether civil, military or religious figures. These include the two bishops, the Greek-orthodox bishop of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi, and the Syriac Orthodox, Youhanna Ibrahim, in the hands of fundamentalist groups in Syria for almost two years.

The situation in Lebanon was also discussed particular the lack of President since last May and  the Christian and Muslim political groups who are boycotting the election of the head of state.

The meeting was attended by Greek-orthodox patriarch Youhanna Yazigi; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Mar Aghnatios Afram II; Patriarch Greek-catholic Gregory III Laham; Syrian Catholic Patriarch Mar Aghnatios Youssef III Younane; Joseph Arnaout, representative of the Armenian Catholicos of Cilicia, Nercès Bedros IX; Michel Kassargi, Chaldean bishop in Lebanon; Pastor Sélim Sahyoun, President of the High Council of the Evangelical community in Lebanon and Syria; the Apostolic Nuncio Gabriele Caccia; several representatives of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant charitable organizations.

 

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