‘Middle East would change for worse without Christian presence’

November 28, 2016


EXISTENTIAL THREAT: Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church says the West and Russia should work together to fight Islamism and terrorism. Having no Christian presence in the Middle East would be a disaster for the world, he said. Picture courtesy of You Tube.

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria, is pictured in Aleppo in a 2008 file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey) (March 22, 2013) See SYRIA-AUDO March 22, 2013.

HISTORY REPEATED: Monsignor Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, says the West is more concerned about the economic value rather than the fear of its people from Islamism. He also said the Armenian Genocide was being revisited in the Levant area of Syria and Iraq, where Daesh had until recently been in control of large swathes of. Picture by Paul Jeffrey.



TWO prominent bishops say that there will be consequences for everyone across the world if the existential threat to Christianity in the Middle East isn’t addressed.

With Christmas only a month away, The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Monsignor Antoine Audo, and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, have not learnt the lessons of history, such as the Armenian Genocide of Christians in Turkey in 1915 and the Holocaust of the Second World War.

The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Monsignor Antoine Audo, has been a first hand contact of what has happened to the Christian community in Aleppo and the rest of Syria.

The bishop highlighted the story of a number of Chaldeans in Ma’loula, who refused to convert to Islam when Daesh entered their village.

Thirty five men, women and children from Ma’loula were either killed instantly or abducted and killed later. The community is seen being visited by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in the video with HM Television accompanying this article, in which Monsignor Audo speaks.

Monsignor Audo said: “Our history is full of this persecution. If we think nearly exactly 100 years ago in 1915 the annihilation of Armenians in the region of Turkey. The majority were Armenians, but there were Chaldeans and Syriacs. After a 100 years the same history is being repeated.

“The Christians don’t have any interest in this war and they don’t have any organisation to defend themselves. Because of this war we have a lot of emigration of young people leaving Syria because there is no work and constant danger.

“For us it is a question of the future of the Church in Syria. This is for our fight and reconciliation in Syria.

“In the West nobody understands our fear. The deep problem for us is that the West only has an economic interest in Syria.

“Everyone has become poor in Syria because of the war, even doctors and engineers.”

Speaking to RT News, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, of the Russian Orthodox Church, has been forced to “raise his voice” on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Previously there were 1,5 million Christians in Iraq and half a million in Syria but those in Iraq have reduced to 150,000 and the number still in Syria is not exactly known as so many have fled the country or have been killed by Daesh.

The Patriarch said: “The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity, and of Christian culture. Which is why killing Christians or driving them out of the region isn’t just a crime against religion, human rights and freedoms; it is a civilizational disaster.

“Once Christian communities vanish from those countries (Iraq and Syria), life will change there in every respect.

“Prior to the current crisis, the governments in those countries, including secular governments, had to reckon with the presence of Christians and devise their policies in a way that would ensure some kind of sectarian balance.

“I want to make it clear that we care for all those who are suffering but while Islamic communities are not about to go extinct in those countries, Christians actually are.”

The Patriarch welcomed the election of Donald Trump to the White House as he claims Russia and the West must work together against the shared threat they face and that Mr Trump recognised the severity of that threat.

“It seems to me that it should be fairly easy to do away with Daesh (ISIS), resolve the refugee crisis and all the other disasters and tragedies rooted in this conflict.

“We keep hearing the Coalition has its own approach, and Russia has a different stance. Well now is the time we can’t have any conflicting positions any longer; we need to align ourselves with each other.

“He (Mr Trump) clearly underlined the necessity to tackle radical Islamism and terrorism. Terrorism poses a real threat to Russia, western Europe, the Middle East and United States, which was hit hard in the early 21st Century. It is high-time we pool ideas, join forces and co-operate to solve this problem that many countries are facing.”

  • THE full interview with Patriarch Kirill on RT News can be viewed here.

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