Moscow, April 16, 2018
The leaders of several Local Orthodox Churches held telephone conversations on Sunday with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to discuss the serious matter of rising international tensions involving war-torn Syria.
Pat. Kirill told media representatives on Sunday that he had initiated a discussion “with all the Orthodox patriarchs of the Middle East—with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, with Theodoros of Alexandria, with John of Antioch, and with Theophilos of Jerusalem,” the Russian Orthodox Church reports.
“The conversation was of course about Syria,” His Holiness added. He also had a talk with Pope Francis on the matter.
“We have taken this initiative, realizing that Christians cannot just stand off to the side from everything that is happening in Syria today. Syria, the Middle East—this is where Christianity arose, and those terrible conflicts that are tormenting the Syrian land now cannot but create a threat, including for the Christian presence. Moreover, it is clear that people are suffering… It is impossible to remain silent when what is happening in Syria today is happening,” Pat. Kirill told reporters.
His Holiness reflected that he was satisfied with the conversations, and that all the primates had full understanding of the concerns involved. “There is a desire to hold further consultations in order to somehow try to influence the situation,” he added.
“We talked about the fact that Christians should influence the situation so as to stop the violence, so that the war stops, so that there would not be these terrible sacrifices that take place today. It was a bright expression of a peacemaking dialogue,” said the Primate of the Russian Church.
According to RIA-Novosti, Pat. Kirill noted that the Church’s opportunities are limited, but that it can have some influence, including over political representatives, “giving some correct coordinates for the peace process.” However, the primates’ joint concern is not a political matter: “This is beyond any political context or political struggle, and that gives us the opportunity to talk with everyone, which in the conditions of the conflict is a big deal.”
The Orthodox, Syrian, and Melkite Catholic patriarchs released a joint statement on Saturday, roundly condemning the recent attack on Syrian soil carried out by a coalition of the U.S., U.K. and France, calling it an act of “brutal aggression.”
See the patriarchs’ full statement here.
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