Syrian prelate: Church works for peace, not to support regime
July 20, 2012
Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham heatedly denies charges that Church leaders in Syria have acted as apologists for the Assad regime, insisting that the Syrian Church has worked independently for peace and justice.
The Melkite patriarch said that he has never pressure from the government to take any political stand. “The state and its leaders have never suggested or invited pastors to make a declaration or adopt a certain position,” he said. “The freedom of pastors has been guaranteed everywhere to date, both in behavioral terms and in terms of public and private declarations.”
Patriarch Laham encouraged Church leaders to continue speaking out against violence and bloodshed. While some rebel leaders in Syria have dismissed the calls for peace as a pretext for upholding the status quo, the Syrian prelate said that the Church’s stand reflects the desires and needs of the common people in Syria, who bear the costs of the fighting.
“We will not allow anyone to speak on our behalf or on behalf of the Christians in Syria, to manipulate our statements in order to make accusations of any time against us,” the Patriarch said.
In a related development the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) issued a statement expressing “great apprehension and profound sadness at the escalating violence in Syria,” and calling for further efforts to end the hostilities.
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