BEIRUT: The patriarchs of Eastern churches Tuesday deplored raging violence in Iraq and Syria that has caused massive displacement of people, calling to maintain the Christian presence in region’s war-torn countries and preserve their lands.
In a statement released at the opening of their Holy Synod in Lady of Balamand Convent in north Lebanon, the prelates also called for safeguarding democratic norms and political freedoms in Lebanon by ensuring the quick election of a new president and reactivating constitutional institutions, especially the Parliament and Cabinet, to enable the country to face the pressing economic, social and security challenges.
“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.”
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, Melkite Gregorius III Lahham, Syriarc Catholic Patriarch Ignatius III Younan, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem , Greek Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi attended the conference.
The patriarchs demanded the release and safe return of all kidnap victims, be they civilians, clerics, or nuns, notably bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, who went missing in Syria 14 months ago.
In addition to the patriarchs, the synod was attended by more than 40 bishops representing the different churches of Antioch and the Orient.