Daily Star: Patriarchs Call on Region’s Christians to Hold Onto Their Lands

The Lebanon Daily Star reports that Patriarchs of Eastern churches in the region are calling on Christians to hold onto their lands in Iraq and Syria, despite the violent and dangerous conditions in those countries.

Patriarchs call on region’s Christians to hold on to their lands

by Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star

BALAMAND, Lebanon: The patriarchs of Eastern churches Tuesday deplored the raging violence in Iraq and Syria that has caused a massive wave of refugees, exhorting Christians to maintain their presence in the region’s war-torn countries and keep hold of their lands.

In a statement released at the opening of their Holy Synod in Lady of Balamand Convent in north Lebanon, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, Melkite Gregorius III Lahham, Syriarc Catholic Patriarch Ignatius III Younan, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi released a statement on local and regional developments.

“The patriarchs prayed for the people of Mosul and north Iraq and urged the world to prevent Iraq’s disintegration and save its people from the scourge of a devastating war,” the statement said. “They also called upon the international community to preserve Iraq’s civilizations, including the deep-rooted Christian civilization, and encouraged their sons to cling on to their land and not give it up under the pressures of current conditions.”

The statement followed ISIS’ declaration of an Islamic caliphate over territories it has seized in Syria and Iraq, which have further raised fears of the rise of extremism in the region.

The patriarchs demanded the release and safe return of all kidnap victims, whether civilians, clerics, or nuns, notably bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, who went missing in Syria 14 months ago.

They also called for the safeguarding of democratic norms and political freedoms in Lebanon by ensuring the quick election of a new president.

Parliament is still struggling to elect a president to fill the post, but political sources told Al-Markazieh news agency that some of the suggestions being put forward would soon be translated into action.

Read the full story here.

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