HARISSA, Lebanon (CNS) — Syriac Catholic bishops meeting in Lebanon for their annual synod lamented the suffering of the Syriac church and other sister churches and the “grave threat” to the future of their presence in the Middle East.
In their final statement for the Oct. 3-7 gathering, the bishops said they studied the current situation in the region and “the suffering of the Syriac church and other sister churches as a result of the terrible crises and conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the instability and disturbances in the Holy Land, and the tragedies of Christians in Egypt.”
“These situations cause pain and persecutions that lead to forced displacement and uprooting from the land of parents and grandparents, with a grave threat to the future of our presence in the East and the continued martyrdom of God … in this part of the world where we were born and God wanted us to be,” the bishops said.
Pointing to Syria, the prelates expressed their satisfaction with a “gradual return to security and stability after more than six years of war imposed” on the country. They called on the international community “and all those with good will to make efforts to achieve a just political solution and to accelerate the return of displaced persons to their homes,” so they can contribute to the reconstruction of their country.
Discussing Iraq, they expressed joy at the liberation of Mosul and areas of the Ninevah Plain from the Islamic State. They also said it was important to show unity “to advance the homeland and rebuild what has been destroyed by terrorism and extremism.”
The bishops also affirmed their support “for the efforts of reconciliation and unity among all factions of the Palestinian people, their right to establish their state and the return of Palestinian refugees to their land according to the U.N. resolutions.”
As for Lebanon, the bishops noted that the country continues to suffer from political, economic, social and security crises and “the burden of 2 million refugees, which increase annually by tens of thousands.”
Coverage of international religious freedom issues by Catholic News Service is supported in part by Aid to the Church in Need — USA.
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