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Syria: Church losing members to Islam

Catholic World News - July 05, 2010

Despite a government that keeps violence against Christians in check, Syria’s minority Catholic population is slowly losing members to Islam because of intermarriage and the nation’s education system, according to Archbishop Samir Nassar, the Maronite archbishop of Damascus.

“Little by little [schoolchildren] get to know more about the Qur’an and Mohammed, more than Jesus Christ, and we give them one hour of catechism and we have to send a bus or a car to bring them and to take them back,” Archbishop Nassar told Aid to the Church in Need. “Sometimes they come, sometimes they do not, and one hour of catechism is not enough.”

The government’s tolerance of Christian worship does not extend to evangelization: it is illegal to baptize Muslims.

2% of the nation’s 19.2 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; an additional 2%-8% of Syrians are Oriental Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox.

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