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Eastern Orthodox leaders demand end to persecution of Christians

Catholic World News - July 26, 2013

The heads and representatives of all 15 autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches have issued a joint statement lamenting the persecution of Christians around the world.

The leaders have gathered to commemorate the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus’, the medieval Slavic state that helped give birth to modern Russia and Ukraine.

“Every day thousands of believers in Christ are being tortured and driven out of their native lands; many people meet their death,” they said in a statement published by Interfax, a Russian news agency. “News about tortures and murders are coming from Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.”

“The situation in the Middle East causes deep concern,” they continued. “Many countries of this region are swept with a wave of violence and terror, with Christians falling victims to it. Libya, where there are almost no Christians left, is breaking into warring tribes. Terrorist acts go on in Iraq, where one tenth of the former one and a half million Christians has left. The situation in Egypt is getting more and more alarming as the conflict there has entered into another bloody phase and the Christian population flees the country in a mass exodus.”

“The situation in Syria is particularly tragic today. In the heat of the fratricidal war, Christians, as well as representatives of other religious groups, are massacred, driven out of their native cities, towns and villages, out of the places where they used to live for centuries in peace with people of other religious traditions,” they added. “The world mass media, as well as many politicians, are silent about the tragedy of Christians in the Middle East.”

The Orthodox leaders concluded:

As servants of the Almighty God, we ardently pray to the Author of Peace, the Lord Pantocrator that peace and love of brothers may be restored in the Middle East, refugees may come back to their settlements as soon as possible, the wounded may be healed and the innocent people who were killed may rest in peace. May the Lord inspire all those involved in the hostilities with wisdom and the good will to stop them!

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