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Melkite Patriarch pleads for peaceful settlement of Syrian crisis

Catholic World News - February 07, 2012

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Latham has issued an appeal to international leaders to help prevent the outbreak of more widespread violence in Syria, arguing that it is possible to resolve the country’s political crisis without ousting the Assad regime.

“Don’t think about changing the regime, but help the regime change,” the Melkite prelate urged. While insisting that he is not competent to evaluate the political situation, he said that the Church will always work to avoid violence. Patriarch Gregory added that in his view the uprisings that have shaken the Arab world during the past year are not revolutions in the ordinary sense, but could bring real and necessary changes.

In light of the fears that other Christian leaders have expressed about the future of other countries—notably Egypt—after the “Arab Spring” uprisings have brought Islamic parties to power, it is noteworthy that the Melkite leader sees the current Syrian regime as relatively tolerant of the Christian minority. “Syria has always had the lowest emigration rate in the Arab world,” the patriach notes. “It is due to the fact that the regime is secular.”

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