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Syria’s bishops lament continued violence, urge prayer, fasting for peace

Catholic World News - March 14, 2014

The Catholic bishops of Syria, including Latin-rite bishops and bishops of various Eastern Catholic churches, met in Lebanon on March 12 and appealed for Lenten prayer and fasting for peace.

“The Syrian crisis is now in its fourth year,” they said. “We declare our rejection of all forms of extremism, takfirism [accusations of renunciation of Islam], murder, and extortion, and all attacks on people and buildings.

“We condemn attacks on places of worship, whether churches or mosques,” they added. “The number of damaged or destroyed churches of all denominations is now around 100.”

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Jean Abdo Arbach of Homs said that his people are determined to remain in Syria. "We Christians are living in fear, the future is uncertain, but we want to stay in our homeland,” he said. The Melkite prelate said that contrary to some recent reports, there are 20,000 Christians still living in Homs itself, and 200,000 in the region, which is close to the Lebanese border. Some Christians who fled the city have returned to Homs, he said. At the same time he said that the news from the rebel-controlled north is alarming, with reports that Islamic law will be applied and Christians subjected to a special tax.”

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