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Russian Orthodox leader calls upon international community to work for religious freedom in Syria

Catholic World News - January 22, 2014

On the eve of the Geneva II Middle East peace conference, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church pleaded for peace in Syria and urged the nations taking part in the conference to protect the religious freedom of Christians there.

“Security and religious freedom of Christians, who have lived in the Middle East for over two thousand years and who are an integral part of the Syrian society, must be ensured along with the security and religious freedom of all other citizens,” said Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow.

“As the first and foremost step towards peace and stability, the hostages must be released and the desecration of religious shrines and objects of historical and cultural heritage must be stopped,” he continued. “So far, nothing has been known about the fate of two Christian hierarchs – Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna Ibrahim – who were abducted near Aleppo in April 2013. The mother superior and sisters of the Convent of St. Thecla in Maalula are still held captive. Their immediate release will be visible evidence that the opposition is ready to work in the search for peace and accord in the Syrian land.”

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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jan. 24, 2014 11:08 AM ET USA

    Quite right, Dutch, but he never mentions their persecutors by name; he speaks in broad generalities and doesn't even name the country where the persecution is happening. Here, for example, is an AP report of 12/26, 2013: "He said some countries guarantee human rights "on paper" but not in practice, leaving Christians subject to "limitations and discrimination." Which countries? Why not mention Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Egypt, etc., just as he did Lampedusa?

  • Posted by: Dutch01 - Jan. 23, 2014 3:08 PM ET USA

    A quick google search shows that Pope Francis has addressed this issue many times.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jan. 22, 2014 1:45 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis needs to speak forcefully about the persecution of Christians by Muslims in Syria and around the world. He speaks boldly -- rightly so -- about the fate of refugees in Lampedusa, but many more are losing their land and even their lives at the hands of anti-Christian thugs in Muslim lands. Where are his ringing words on behalf of these victims? Where his strident condemnation of their persecutors?

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