Catholic World News

Eastern Christian leaders plea: help for refugees, end support for terrorism

January 28, 2015

Leaders of the Eastern Christian community met in Bkerke, Lebanon on January 27, and released a joint statement urging international support for the Christian refugees in the Middle East.

The Christian leaders, representing Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant denominations, issued their appeal to “two communities: Arab and international.”

In the portion of their appeal aimed primarily to Arabic world, the prelates said that to stop the fighting in Syria and Iraq, and enable refugees to return home, governments must “cease to support the terrorists,” cutting off financial aid and closing borders where necessary.

Speaking more generally to the international community, the statement urged more material aid to refugees. They also said that a negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could eliminate “the root cause of the misfortunes” in the region.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who hosted the meeting at the seat of his patriarchate, said that the goal of the Christian community is to ensure that Christian living in the Middle East “can stay in their respective countries and preserve their Christian tradition and mission."

The participants in the Bkerke meeting included Maronite Catholic Patriach Beshara Rai, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, and Syrian Catholic Patriarch Mar Aghnatios Youssef III Younan. The Orthodox leaders included Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhann Yazigi, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Aghantios Afram II, and Armenian Catholicos Nerces Bedros IX of Cilicia. Rev. Selim Sahyoun, the president of the Evangelical community in Lebanon and Syria, also took part.

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