Catholic World News

Syrian Catholic bishop condemns Orthodox bishop’s call to arms

December 12, 2013

A Greek Orthodox bishop’s exhortation to Syrian Christians to take up arms is “insane” and “reckless,” a Syrian Catholic prelate told the Fides news agency.

Bishop Lukas El Khoury, an auxiliary bishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, had said that “every young Christian in a position to do so should take up arms to protect Syria, churches, and convents,” Fides reported. “We cannot remain with arms folded.”

[Update: Bishop Lukas El Khoury later denied making the remarks attributed to him (see link below).] “As men of the Church, we cannot incite Christians to take up arms and to take part in the conflict,” Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, the Syrian Catholic archbishop of Hassaké-Nisibi, said in response. “We cannot say these things, it is insane. It goes against the Gospel and the Christian doctrine … Reckless statements put Christians in danger of becoming targets of violence.”

In “the situation in which we find ourselves, every individual, even Christian, is free to make his own choices according to conscience,” Archbishop Hindo added. “Last year the government had offered me 700 Kalashnikovs to be distributed among the Christians of Hassaké, and a thousand for those of Qamishli, and I refused. We are against violence, from whatever side it comes.”


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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Dec. 14, 2013 8:01 AM ET USA

    After all, it turns out that this story about the patriarch is a lie diffused by Iraqi sources; he himself denied it yesterday. It's simply another example of taqiyah, "licit lying", allowed by the so-called holy book of Mohammedans, the Koran, in order to gain advantage over Islam's enemies (i.e. anyone not already trapped in that vicious creed). I repeat what I have said many times before: Westerners need to learn about this dangerous ideology, a pseudo-religion, now. The hour is already late.

  • Posted by: Defender - Dec. 13, 2013 12:41 AM ET USA

    The press and even the Church has turned a blind eye to the attempted eradication of Christianity in Syria (and elsewhere). Arming the rebels, the US and Saudi Arabia are culpable for this. The UN and Europe stand by and don't do anything either. So I ask you, would you stand by and have a loved one raped, abducted or murdered? Don't use the word "crusade" because most people don't know the real history of it in the Mid-East, but it certainly will take armed force to prevent further violence.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Dec. 12, 2013 9:02 PM ET USA

    Good point, wsw33410. Taking up arms "to protect Syria, churches, and convents" is a prudential decision to be made by one's own conscience, as Archbishop Hindo notes at the end of the news article. But it is more than this, as wsw cites in CCC n. 2265; it can be a grave duty. Leviticus 19:16 says "nor shall you stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake" (NAB, cf. Douay OT and Tanakh). Thus we see wisdom in Bishop El Khoury's statement: "We cannot remain with arms folded."

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Dec. 12, 2013 8:32 PM ET USA

    I second the thoughts of WSW. The only "insane" and "reckless" notion here is that it is somehow wrong to defend oneself. Not only that, but the offer of the government to give Bishop Hindo 1700 Kalashnikovs, underlines a truth: Obama and Hollande (France) were prepared to back the wrong side in this conflict; their "side" would have killed every Christian it could get its hands on. Thank heaven once again that Putin stepped in to prevent the massacre.

  • Posted by: bruno - Dec. 12, 2013 8:20 PM ET USA

    In any evaluation of whether or not to take up arms, one has to consider the consequences of acting. Is there a reasonable hope of victory in the defense of one's homeland? Typically, clerics are not the competent authority to turn to with such questions.

  • Posted by: wsw33410 - Dec. 12, 2013 4:23 PM ET USA

    Moral issue - do Christians have a right to defend themselves, while the West, incl. the US, sends arms and money to Al-Kaida affiliated rebels who slaughter Christians and "conservative" opposition to Bashar Al-Assad? See CCC: 2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others.