“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

International Conference in Amman Tackles “The Challenges of Christian Arabs

AMMAN: Fulfilling the wish of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, an International Summit will be held in Amman on September 3 and 4. The Summit will discuss and address the issue facing Christian Arabs: wars, bombings, kidnappings, desecration, emigration. It is an occasion for the Eastern Churches to make their voices widely heard on the international arena, at a time of tension and fear of a regional conflagration with the Syrian conflict in the background. 

These topics  “challenges of Christian Arabs” had been raised on August 29 during the meeting in the Vatican between Pope Francis and King Abdallah II of Jordan, initiator of the initiative (commandeered by Prince Ghazi ben Muhammad, advisor of the Monarch on religious affairs and cultural rights). In the official brochure, the organizers wrote  : “the Middle East is the cradle of Christianity, but the recent upheavals have placed the Christian communities face to face with serious challenges in the region.”  Consequently, the Conference aims at gathering the Heads of all Christian Churches of the Middle East, in order – as pointed out by the organizers – “to grant them a voice which will be heard worldwide. ”  They further indicated that “it’s only in identifying clearly, in discussing and in gathering information that solutions to those challenges may be found in order – God willing – to bolster  at all times both  the security and prosperity of Christianity in the Middle East, recognized as a fundamental part  of the rich fabric of the Middle East”.

No less than 70 Patriarchs, Patriarchal delegates, bishops, priests and other responsible figures of the entire Christian communities of the region will gather over the course of two days, in the framework of various study sessions devoted namely to the recent developments of the situation in Egypt, in Syria,  in Iraq,  in Lebanon, in Jordan and in Jerusalem.  The list of participants is a lengthy one.  What is noteworthy – in addition to Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Head of the  Pontifical Council for inter-religious dialogue  which represents the Holy See – the presence of H.B. Fouad Twal (Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem),  H.B. Theophilos III (Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem), H.B. Nourhanne Manougian (Armenian Orthodox Patriarch).  Will be attending as well the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Yohanna X al-Yazigi, residing in Damascus,  brother of Metropolitan of Aleppo, kidnapped last April by  still unknown elements,  together with Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim.

Christians of the Orient hand in hand

Against the backdrop of violence, of which Christians of Egypt, Irak are victims with  the Syrian conflict at the heart, the Christians are  suffering.  The situation in the area is growing more and more tense, the Christian communities share the destiny of everybody when it comes  to  violence, fighting and attacks  and moreover are often disregarded as citizens.

The Heads of the Christian Churches have presented a united front in Lebanon, as regards Iraq,  in the Holy Land as regards Syria … in order to face  risks threatening their faithful in the case of  a foreign armed intervention taking  place in Syria.   A chain reaction has ensued.   The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem wonders about the legitimacy of eventual strikes.  The Bishop of Aleppo, Msgr Antoine Audo, alludes to the danger of  a “world war” .  Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai has accused “countries  especially from the West,  and also from the East, to stir up all these  conflicts”.  “We are about to witness the utter  destruction  of what Christians have been able to build during 1 400 years, in terms of coexistence with Moslems”, he said.  And in the same breath,  Iraqi Chaldean  Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, denounces an action  that is likely “to blow up a volcano involving Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine.  Maybe someone wants precisely that to happen.”  The fear of recurrence of the Iraqi scenario is brought up  at every occasion , as well as the loss of secularism which has made coexistence in the Middle East livable.

Hand in hand, from the whole  Middle East, the Churches have nurtured the feeling of support following the  call of the Pope for a day of fasting and prayer on September 7.  Vatican Agency Fides reports that the call “has opened out the hearts at all levels, with Bishops and with simple faithful.  The Christian communities in Syria, in the Middle East and in  the diaspora feel gratified  and are getting ready to unite in fasting and in prayer”.

By: Christophe Lafontaine

2016-10-24T07:21:47+00:00 September 3rd, 2013|Categories: News|