“I visited Aleppo. Of the approximately four million people in the city, about thirty-five thousand Christians remain, including Orthodox,” said Patriarch John X of Antioch at a recent meeting with Russian parliamentarians. “The help given by Russia allows people to remain in the country,” said the primate, as Interfax-Religion reports.
The continued presence of Christians in Syria is a very important issue, but to restore Syria “is not only to rebuild and apartments, but to rebuild the human soul,” the patriarch said. “We must regain the ability to live in peace.”
Patriarch John also told RIA-Novosti that he highly appreciated the meeting with the Russian delegation. “The visit of the delegation was wonderful, magnificent. Our Russian brothers also help us and regularly come to give us various help,” he said.
“We are against relocation. We are here and will remain here,” he said, following up on the meeting.
In turn, Sergei Gavrilov, the head of the Duma committee for the development of civil society and religious organizations, spoke about the delegation’s meeting with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad: “We noted that Syria is caught between two threats—between radical Jihadism, which the Gulf states provoke, and liberal aggression, which is provoked by Western countries.”
“Many of the countries involved in the Middle East are also quite indifferent to the fate of Christianity,” Gavrilov said, noting that the West is increasingly abandoning its Christian roots.
Patriarch John also emphasized that he eagerly awaits the visit of Patriarch Kirill at his earliest convenience.