BEIRUT: The United Nations should lead a military force against ISIS Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Friday, while partially blaming the international community for the rise of extremism.
In a speech tackling possible solutions to the crises faced by the international Christian community, Rai called for the creation of “a military force under the hospices of the United Nations and the Security Council to put an end to the invasion by the terrorist organizations.”
Rai gave the address at the International Catholic Legislators Network’s conference in the Vatican City, which joins together Christian figures and government officials from numerous states, most notably the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Spain.
Rai blamed the international community for “bearing some responsibility for the growth of terrorist organizations,” and the tragedies occurring across the Middle East.
“Everyone knows that those countries are victims of international struggle motivated by political, economic and strategic interests [that are] related to the gas and the petrol in those countries,” he said.
Stressing that the world “should put an end to the terrorist organizations and especially ISIS," Rai said that the Arab and Islamic states should be especially concerned, given the harm such groups are causing to Islam.
Groups such as ISIS are “offering a distorted image of Islam by presenting it to the world as a religion that rejects diversity and persecutes those who are different,” he said.
Rai warned that the ongoing attacks on Christians in Iraq and Syria might lead to the creation of new, catastrophic realities.
“Christians are ending up paying the heaviest price and their very presence in the region, dating back to the time of Christ, is now in real jeopardy."
He said the different communities across the region need to consolidate in order to move toward modern states, following the Lebanese model.
“We all should work toward reconciliation among the various components of those countries and among denominations of the same religion.”
“In order for the countries of the Middle East to enjoy a just, global and lasting peace,” he continued, “they ought to endeavor to separate religion and the state, and establish the secular state according to Lebanon's example.”
While Lebanon separates the church and state, he explained, “it pays homage to almighty God and respect to all religions, as well as to their creeds and personal law.”
Rai arrived at the Vatican Thursday morning on an official visit to participate in the conference and meet with Pope Francis.