Promote the rights of Christian citizens of the Middle East, and bring an end to persecution.

This was the message Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, brought to the “Interreligious Meeting on Supporting Citizenship Rights and Peaceful Coexistence: Challenges, Practices and Open Questions” which took place in Athens on September 2-3. The meeting was organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and KAICIID, and interreligious forum founded in 2012 by Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Spain.

“We are here to stand together in supporting all those who are suffering the consequences of the situation in the Middle East and seeking to facilitate peace and reconciliation through dialogue,” Fr. Ayuso said.

“The critical situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria and in other parts of the region where there is extensive violence and political conflict, is, as we know, placing long-established Christian communities in jeopardy as a result of their displacement,” he continued.

Father Ayuso reminded the participants of the “many times Pope Francis has wished to give voice to the atrocious, inhuman and unexplainable persecution of those in so many parts of the world – and above all among Christians – who are victims of fanaticism and intolerance, often under the eyes and in the silence of all the world.”

Mentioning the 7 points being covered by the meeting – status quo on security; citizenship; best practice in protecting religious minorities; reducing hate and violence; respect for all regardless of religious identity; commitment towards supporting citizenships rights of Christians in the Middle East; and engagement through dialogue – Father Ayuso said it invites the participants to “act and contribute in promoting citizenship and true coexistence for all.”

The Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue quoted the 6 August letter from Pope Francis to Bishop Lahham, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem for the Latins, Vicar Patriarchate for Jordan, in which the Holy Father said “world public opinion be ever more attentive, sensitive and participant in face of the persecutions carried out in dealings with Christians and, more in general, of religious minorities”… hoping that  “the International Community will not remain silent and inert in face of such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrying disregard of the most essential human rights and impedes the richness of coexistence among peoples, cultures and faiths.”

In conclusion, Father Ayuso cited the words of Pope Francis to the civil authorities of Albania during the Holy Father’s 21 September, 2014, visit to Tirana:

“The peaceful coexistence of different religious communities is an inestimable benefit to peace and to harmonious human advancement. This is something of value which needs to be protected and nourished each day, by providing an education which respects differences and particular identities, so that dialogue and cooperation for the good of all.”


Source: Radio Vatican