Damascus, June 23, 2015
Stating that extremism is capable of distorting any religion, Syrian Patriarchs – Orthodox, Catholic, and Non-Chalcedonian – have addressed their flocks, calling upon them to maintain closer ties with the Muslims who are struggling with islamist ideologies.
The joint archpastoral appeal, published after a meeting in Damascus, was signed by five patriarchs of Antioch: Orthodox Patriarch John X, Melkite (Greek Catholic) Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Syriac (Monophysitic) Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, Maronite Catholic Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, and Syrian Catholic Patriarch Joseph III Younan, reports Sedmitza.ru.
The primates said that the majority of Muslims living in the region oppose the fundamentalist Sunni Muslim ideology which encourages violence. They stressed: “Our (Muslim) partners are aware of your suffering and sympathize with you.” They have called upon Christians “to remain with our Muslim brothers and sisters for a long time.” Religious leaders have added that many local Muslims “are collaborating with their leaders in order to oppose takfirism and to eradicate this ideology completely”.
The pastoral appeal, extracts from which are published on the official website of the Aid to the Church in Need international Catholic charity organization, was issued following the meeting of Syrian Patriarchs of various jurisdictions in the Orthodox Al-Mariamia Church in the city of Damascus. All five Patriarchs accentuated that violence and only small minorities within Islam practice all forms of terrorism and that the majority of Muslims “are partners in our motherland and our fortune.”
The Patriarchs’ statement also calls upon the world community to help overcome the crisis in Syria and to find “peaceful and political settlements of the conflicts.” They are also asking foreign governments to permit displaced people to return to their native land and restore their dwellings.
In Iraq and Syria around 1.5 million Christians were forced to flee their homes and seek salvation in foreign lands.