Interwiew – The meeting of Catholic Patriarchs of the East at the Vatican coincides with an escalation of violence in Lebanon and Egypt. Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem confides his fears and calls for the urgent need of a solution in Syria, to avoid irreversible regional conflagration.
Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt will they blow up the Middle East?
The situation is quite complex and increasingly dramatic: the confessional division between religious and secular and between Sunnis and Shiites.
In Iraq, the situation is still dangerous. In Syria, I see no signs of peace. Instead, the confrontation continues inexorably. In Egypt, the recent attacks in Cairo and Sinai plunge the country into a spiral of violence. As for Lebanon, it has been unstable in recent years. Its balance is precarious because it is based on sectarianism.
Besides, Syria was a stabilizing element because before the Arab Spring, its word was respected in Lebanon. Today, in the Lebanese population, there is no force necessary. It is certain that the pacification of Syria is what we want more than anything else, would have a positive reflect on Lebanon in addition to being geographically close, presents a social, religious and demographic components similar to Syria.
So, I join the Patriarchs gathered in Rome, with the Holy Father, to reinforce and renew an appeal so that the war in Syria ends as quickly as possible . We must stop the senseless killings and confrontations that until now have declared no winner. . All are losers.
Are you afraid?
Yes. I am afraid. The situation in Syria and Iraq may be repeated elsewhere and it will be worse. I feel that the Middle East is like a burning forest. Who can stop the fire?
All parts of the Middle East are terribly affected, especially the most vulnerable, including us Christians.
As Christians, what should we do?
Our prayers should always accompany the men of good will, there are many, who are working for peace.
During this time preceding Advent , the readings and Gospels describe the apocalyptic events that will precede the return of Christ. The texts warn of signs of the end times: wars, conlicts, famine, persecution … many of these signs are now in our Middle East. In his proclamation, Christ said, “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. ” (Luke 21: 28). We do not understand everything, but we know that the current silence of the Lord is not for long. You have to believe, even if we do not know today how and when that day will come.
Interview by Christophe Lafontaine