mercoledì, giugno 18, 2014

 

Syriac Catholic Patriarch: ‘We Are Devastated From the Situation in Mosul’

By National Catholic Register
Kathryn Elliot

Patriarch Ignatius Youssef Younan of Antioch is the leader of the Syriac Catholic Church. He spoke June 17 with EWTN Nightly News producer Kathryn Elliott from Lebanon, where he has been living for the past five years.
Islamic militants have marched on Mosul and many major cities in Iraq. What does this mean for the Christian population there, and what’s your response?
We are devastated from the situation happening in Mosul for the past few days. Mosul is one of the cities where Christians lived for thousands of years. In recent times, it has had about 20 churches — Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Orthodox churches with monasteries. Now, that city is empty of all its Christian community. They fled in a matter of a few hours because they were very much frightened by that invasion of jihadist terrorists. They were, of course, supposed to leave to seek a kind of refuge in areas of Iraq like the plain of Nineveh, where Christian communities still live.
What is your message to the aggressors terrorizing Iraq?
Look, as a Christian, I have been teaching as I was taught: to pardon and love our enemies. But it doesn’t help talking to those people because they have already lost their human souls. They were and they still are fighting in the name of their god in violence. It’s not only their fault. Politicians in the West have been telling us that the Arab Spring is coming in that region, and it will be good for its people. This was a lie. They are accomplices of emptying the region of its Christian communities.
What message have you gotten from Western politicians?
They have been telling us that they have to arm the moderate revolutionaries in Syria and elsewhere. It’s not the truth. You can’t find moderate Muslim groups right now in the area. There is a fight of sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias. This is very much boosted by United States politicians. They were telling us regarding Syria that the regime will fall, and the people will get the power.
We are now three years and two months, and the fight is still there. And innocent people are paying the price. Innocent people are leaving, and the country is destroyed.
What is your response to the turmoil in Mosul?
Now, we are worried about Iraq. It’s sad to say, but the international family beginning with the U.N. and Western countries has not helped.
Our ancestors loved the Lord and were faithful to their faith, so they stayed in their land. Despite all kinds of persecutions, they were keeping the faith alive. Now, we are facing the most critical situation in the life of the Middle East.
How are Christians in the Middle East supporting one another?

We try to support each other, keeping the faith alive, and manage to stay. We can’t anymore convince our young generation to stay. After what happened in Syria, and most recently in Iraq, we really can’t tell them anymore to stay and witness to the Lord in society. It’s very, very sad. And, therefore, we ask Christians in the Middle East to look East rather than West. To Russia, China and the East. We have been betrayed by the West. We don’t need bread from the West; we need to live in unity in the East.

As patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, how do you bridge the conflict areas in the Middle East?
I am in Lebanon now, keeping touch with my people in Iraq and Syria. We try to encourage them and be patient, but it doesn’t seem like the situation will change. I’ve already visited Iraq 11 times in the last few years. We were supposed to go again in August, but I don’t know if we’re going to make it, because of this horrible situation, the sectarian war.
We thank you very much for your prayers, and we keep hoping that the Lord will not abandon us.

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