This unsigned editorial appeared online Oct. 24 on the website of The Catholic Register, the Toronto-based national Catholic Canadian newspaper.
Syrian Christians have been neglected, forgotten and cast aside like “the scum of the world,” charged the patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church.
He was angry, and who could blame him after Islamist forces, emboldened by a U.S. about-face and backed by Turkey, attacked an area of northeast Syria mainly populated by Christians, Kurds and Yazidis. Some 150,000 civilians, including 70,000 children, have been driven from their homes, the latest indignity in what amounts to a pogrom threatening to eradicate Christianity in the Middle East.
“We Christians of the East are neglected and abandoned by this world, which searches for its immediate material interests,” said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan.
“We know that those who will pay the price are particularly innocent — especially Christians who cannot defend themselves. … We continue to suffer from terrorist attacks, acts of violence, blind religious and sectarian fanaticism, and thus we are displaced, uprooted and annihilated.”
The attacks, which began Oct. 9, became inevitable the moment U.S. President Donald Trump, with little warning, all but rolled out a blood-red carpet for the invaders by pulling U.S. troops from the region. He abandoned local forces, which were defending the region against the jihadists of the Islamic State. Now lands inhabited by Christians for 2,000 years are being religiously cleansed so 2 million Sunni Muslim refugees, who had fled to Turkey from Syria, can have a new home.
It’s an appalling situation that should outrage decent people, yet, as the patriarch said when people began to flee, “the world around them, especially the powerful, does not think of them.”
“Our Christian people find no solution other than to leave their land and that of their fathers and grandfathers.”
In barely 15 years the Christian population of Syria and Iraq has plunged from about 2.5 million to less than 500,000. Some 2 million Christians have been displaced and many thousands more killed amid a disheartening international silence.
For generations, Christians, Kurds and Yazidis symbolized religious tolerance in an intolerant part of the world. Now they are fleeing for their lives, refugees, their homes bombed and their towns cleared to create what Turkey gallingly calls a “safe zone” for displaced Muslim refugees.
This so-called “safe zone” is more like a death trap, according to aid workers. The latest violence demonstrates why optimism for the survival of Christianity in the Middle East is fading.
On one side are powerful interests determined to cleanse the region of Christians. On the other is an international community that has perfected sympathy but never finds the outrage required to get involved.
The methodical cleansing of the region’s once-robust Christian population and other religious minorities is a textbook case of genocide. The world should be crying out for justice.
Instead, to its shame, it is mostly silent.
The views or positions presented in this or any guest editorial are those of the individual publication and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicPhilly.com, Catholic News Service or of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103