BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNS) — Syrian-born Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs pressed the need to preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The patriarchs — Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, Melkite Patriarch Joseph Absi, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch — met with Peter Szijarto, Hungary’s foreign minister, in addition to Putin and Orban during their official visit to the Hungarian capital Oct. 29-30.
In a speech to Szijarto, Patriarch Absi said the exodus of Christians from the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Iraq, and most recently Syria, has become “an alarming issue” for Christian leaders.
“The failure of different groups to live together in harmony in Middle Eastern countries is a threat to convivial relations between different groups all over the world,” he said.
“Failure to help the Middle-East to remain an oasis for different religions to live peacefully together will set a dangerous historical precedent,” Patriarch Absi warned. “Soon, similar conflicts will start to take shape in different places of the world.”
The patriarch stressed that the Christian presence in the Middle East “gives us a special role regarding our Muslim compatriots: that of witnessing the Gospel through a commitment to the service of all, whether in our schools, our hospitals, our centers for the elderly or our orphanages.”
He praised “the courage of the Hungarian position against immigration,” citing in particular the government’s Hungary Helps program, which has benefitted war-torn Syrian communities.
While the churches in the Middle East are trying to encourage Christians to stay in their homelands, Patriarch Absi said, “this is a mission that needs the work of governments because the needs are truly big and go beyond the capacity of the church.”
“What we need is countries with a similar vision to Hungary and Russia,” Patriarch Absi said.
“That is, to help people the way they want to be helped rather than to change entire countries to befit political agendas.”
Patriarch Absi continued, “We hope that other countries will follow their example and encourage Christians to stay. This can be done by the lifting of economic sanctions, putting an end to the embargo, and by helping to achieve lasting peace. The Russian Federation and Hungary can have an impact on the international community; they can show other countries the way to achieve peace and how to safeguard nations in conflict.”
In a news conference Oct. 30 with Putin, Orban said that Hungary and Russia have a shared interest in stopping migration and achieving stability in the Middle East.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing 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.
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.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: