Wednesday, December 11, 2013
We are profoundly disturbed by the actions of the state security forces on the Maydan Square in heart of Kyiv conducted under the cover of the night.
We condemn the action directed towards restricting civil liberties, especially the freedom of expression and peaceful civic manifestation of the citizens of Ukraine.
We declare our support and solidarity with all those on the Maydan Square who are standing with dignity and witnessing to the dignity of their fellow citizens and of the whole nation.
We strongly support the peaceful character of this civic gathering and declare our rejection of any type of violence.
We pray to God Almighty for peace, justice and the triuph of truth for our people.
In this time of great trial by the words of Jesus Christ that were proclaimed in all of our churches this past Sunday offer encouragement: “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed!” (Lk 8, 50)
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you!
Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych
Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
And the members of the Permanent Synod:
+Volodymyr Viytyshyn, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Ivano Frankivsk
+Ken Nowakowski Eparch of New Westminster (Canada)
+Borys Gudziak, Eparch of the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great in Paris
+Yaroslav Pryriz, Eparch of Sambir-Drohobych ;
+Bohdan Dzhiurakh, Bishop and Secretary of the Permanent Synod of the UGCC ______________________________
See also Post by The Euromaidan Journalist Collective.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
2013-12-08 Bishop Fulop, a set on Flickr.
Bishop Fülöp (Kocsis), Eparch of Hajdúdorogi, Hungary once again visited the parish of St. Elias the Prophet in Brampton. His Grace served at Matins Saturday, December 7, and again on December 8 for Matins and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Published on Dec 9, 2013
8 грудня Архиєрейською Літургією в Патріаршому соборі Воскресіння Христового в Києві розпочав свою роботу Постійний Синод Української Греко-Католицької Церкви.
Членами Постійного Синоду є Глава УГКЦ та чотири архиєреї: владика Володимир (Війтишин), Архиєпископ і Митрополит Івано-Франківський, владика Кен (Новаківський), Єпарх Нью-Вестмінтерський (Канада), владика Ярослав (Приріз), Єпарх Самбірсько-Дрогобицький, та владика Борис (Ґудзяк), Єпарх єпархії Святого Володимира з Парижа.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
KIEV, Ukraine — After riot police officers stormed Independence Square here early Saturday, spraying tear gas, throwing stun grenades and swinging truncheons, dozens of young protesters ran, terrified, scattering up the streets. It was after 4:30 a.m., the air cold, the sky black. As they got their bearings, the half-lit bell tower of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery beckoned.
Inside, the fleeing demonstrators found more than warmth and safety. They had arrived in a bastion of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate, where they were welcomed not only on a humanitarian basis but because the church, driven by its own historical tensions with Moscow, is actively supporting their uprising. It strongly favors European integration to enable Ukraine to break free from Russia’s grip, and has joined the calls to oust the Ukrainian government.
|A priest stood in a protest camp in Kiev, Ukraine. When riot police drove demonstrators from Independence Square on Saturday, many fled to a monastery.|
But in recent days, the Kyivan Patriarchate, which controls St. Michael’s, has emerged as a powerful ally of the thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich and the revival of the far-reaching political and trade accords with the European Union that he has refused to sign. Some priests have even led prayer sessions in Independence Square, which protesters have occupied.
“Our church is together with the people,” the Kyivan Patriarchate’s 84-year-old leader, Patriarch Filaret, said in an interview. “It supports Ukraine entering the European Union. We pray to God that he will help us enter the European Union in order to keep our statehood, to keep peace and to improve the life of the people.”
Read the rest of the story here....
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Вперше в історії Папа Римський дозволив Главі східної католицької церкви молитись на головному алтарі Базиліки святого Петра що у Ватикані. Безпрецендентна подія сколихнула всіх. Папа Франциск давно славиться своєю гостинністю. Як правило всіх запрошених гостей Понтифік приймає у себе в кабінеті. Проте для українців Папа влаштував особливий прийом.
To protect Russian Orthodoxy, Putin practices soft discrimination against other faiths
The country Winston Churchill once dubbed a “riddle wrapped in a mystery,” showed it was still capable of opaque behavior last week when a Moscow court banned possession of a sermon given 117 years ago by a Ukrainian Catholic (Uniate) archbishop.
Sheptytsky and the Jews
As for the former Metropolitan Archbishop Andrey Sheptytsky, he is far from obscure. Only a few months ago he won a posthumous award from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League for saving Jews from the Nazis while the latter occupied Ukraine during the Second World War. Sheptytsky was also an early advocate of interfaith dialogue. He died in 1944, after leading his flock through 25 years of brutal Soviet suppression, and is now being proposed for Catholic sainthood.
Sheptytsky’s sermon was proscribed along with 15 explicitly Ukrainian nationalist documents in a single, 10-minute hearing by a busy Moscow magistrate, whose office refuses to offer any explanation or paperwork about the decision. The broad-brush Extremism Law of 2002 bans documents that attack anyone based on his or her belief but is used, ironically, to confiscate anything that might undermine Russian Orthodoxy, a faith that commands only nominal loyalty from most citizens.
At first glance, Sheptytsky’s sermon avoids criticism of other faiths, but its defence of Catholicism as a “transnational institution,” against those seeking to split it up “into a number of purely national institutions,” could be seen as an attack on the Tsarist principle of Russian governance now being resurrected by Putin: “Orthdoxy, Autocracy, Nationality.”
Under the Tsars, this policy was an excuse for anti-Jewish pogroms, and, some would argue, ultimately destructive to the Orthodox soul; today the same identification of state and Orthodoxy justifies a softer discrimination, such as the withholding of building permits requested by Russia’s burgeoning Protestant community.
The result, says Anatoly Pchelintsev, a religion specialist and professor at the Russian State Humanitarian University, is an “underground” Protestant home church movement with about 8,000 churches functioning beside 4,000 recognized ones, totalling only slightly fewer than the number of Orthodox churches. While no Protestants have been sent to prison, 263 Muslims were arrested briefly in June for celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast together.
Putin is now making nice with the Vatican, but the Ukrainian Catholic Church still represents a divisive force that will resist ongoing Russian Federation efforts to bring Ukraine’s Uniates back into the Orthodox fold. The Soviet Union forcibly subjugated them to the Russian Orthodox church after the Second World War and Sheptytsky remains today a symbol of courage within a church that was forced underground for the next 45 years – only to emerge when the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its internal contradictions.
Kiev, December 2, Interfax - The primate of Ukrainian Orthodox Church have condemned the dispersal of a protest in support of Europe integration in Kiev's Independence Square (Maidan) and cautioned against further violence.
"We are all children of one God and citizens of one country. For this reason, we should do everything to ensure that the political process does not go beyond God's commandments and Christian morals, the Constitution, and the laws of Ukraine," Metropolitan Vladimir said as reported the official website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
According to the Kiev emergency services, 35 people sought medical assistance after the dispersal of the rally and seven of them were hospitalized.
Statement of the Ukrainian Catholic University
On the Provocations on the EuroMaidan
December 2, 2013
The scenes of the violent clashes on Sunday that were initiated by provocateurs in front of the building of the presidential administration are no less shocking than the footage of the Berkut riot police’s brutal dispersal of the demonstrators on the Maidan. Violence is appalling—no matter who commits it.
The bright day of December 1—which went down in the history of Ukraine as the day of the peaceful referendum on independence in 1991 and which this year was marked with the peaceful EuroMaidan demonstrations all over the nation—was overshadowed by violence.
For us, the community of the Ukrainian Catholic University, who advocate Christian values, it is inexpressibly sad that in the hearts of a small group of people dwells a desire to pay law enforcement officers to shed blood. But revenge is also repugnant—no matter how strong the motivation is.
We will have the moral right to demand the authorities to take responsibility for the violence only when we will demand the provocateurs or demonstrators who deliberately fueled the bloody confrontation to take responsibility. They placed themselves not only outside of the law, but also outside the will of society.
To read the “signs of the times” correctly is our civic and moral obligation. The present time requires not the elite, who cynically robs the people, and not the revengers, who wish harm to their enemies, but those who are willing to serve the people by establishing peace, harmony, and prosperity.
UCU on the Euro Maidan- click here for photos and videos
http://ucu.edu.ua/news/10757/ - See more at: http://ucef.org/news/3475/#sthash.Vzxq0lKp.dpuf
(Reuters) – Around 100 Ukrainian pro-EU protesters took refuge from police batons and biting cold on Saturday inside the walls of a central Kiev monastery.
With a barricade of benches pushed up against a gate to keep police out, protesters – who had rallied against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to reject a pact with the European Union – checked their wounds in the pre-dawn light.
Some attended a 6 a.m. service in the lilac and gold St. Michael’s Cathedral on the monastery grounds after which a group of bearded, black-robed monks approached protesters to hear of their encounters with police and urge them not to seek revenge.
“They gave us tea to warm us up, told us to keep our spirits strong and told us not to fight evil with evil,” said Roman Tsado, 25, a native of Kiev, who said police beat him on his legs as they cleared the pro-EU rally.
“I don’t go to church much, only to escape from the powers of evil,” said Tsado, laughing.
The main protest, on Kiev’s central Independence Square, swelled on Friday evening to nearly 10,000 people as news spread of Yanukovich’s decision to orient Ukraine back towards former Soviet master Russia.
In the early hours of Saturday, police used batons and stun grenades to disperse the protest.
“This is the only safe place we have left, and besides I have nowhere else to go,” said Alexander Ananich, a 17-year-old student from the city of Lviv.
With police vans outside the monastery walls, it was unclear how long protesters would be able to remain.
Church representatives declined to comment.
The Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral, where the faithful light candles before gilded icons of saints, was destroyed during the religious purges of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and rebuilt after independence.
At the main gate, volunteers, some elderly, handed out food to the mostly young protesters as they compared stories of the night’s violence.
With bandages around his head and dried blood on his black leather jacket, Ustim Kholodnyuk, 19, said he was knocked unconscious by police and managed to crawl out of the square on his hands and knees.
“People took me here in a taxi so at least I would be safe somewhere,” he said, church bells ringing as he spoke.
KIEV, Ukraine — The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and other Catholic leaders condemned police violence against "peaceful demonstrations" after President Viktor Yanukovich's decision not to seek closer ties with the European Union.
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, of Kiev-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, also spoke of preventing an "escalation of violence, which could lead to even more tragic consequences."
"We must not respond to violence with violence and evil with evil," he said.
Demonstrators barricaded Kiev's Independence Square and urged a general strike to protest the president's withdrawal from an EU association agreement, which was to have been signed at a Nov. 28-29 summit in Lithuania.
Ukraine's Council of Churches and Religious Organizations also urged citizens to remember "violence begets violence."
"Law enforcement agencies need to protect public order and promote the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and expression," the council said in a Nov. 27 statement.
"Radicalization of these protests can only harm the people and national interests of Ukraine. In a civilized society like Ukraine, we must learn to express different views on social issues in a peaceful manner and through dialogue," the council said.
Protesters blockaded the Cabinet office and other official buildings in the capital Dec. 2, demanding the resignation of Yanukovich and his prime minister, Mykola Azarov.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian newspapers reported police reinforcements were being sent to Kiev after weekend street clashes left at least 100 police and 165 opposition supporters injured.
In a Nov. 30 statement, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Archbishop Shevchuk's predecessor, criticized the president for backtracking on the agreement, which is strongly opposed by neighboring Russia. However, the cardinal said "people power" required "peaceful, coherent, joint activities," rather than violence.
Ukraine's Catholic University accused the government of "sending hired thugs" to "fuel a body confrontation" Dec. 1 in front of Kiev's presidential palace, but warned protesters against revenge, "no matter how strong the motivation is."
"The consequences of the actions of both sides are the same: an encroachment on peaceful protests by a million people throughout Ukraine," the Lviv-based university said in a Dec. 2 statement. "The present time does not require an elite which cynically robs the people, nor seekers of revenge wishing harm to their enemies, but people willing to serve by establishing peace, harmony and prosperity."
The association agreement, establishing a Ukraine-EU free-trade zone, was approved in September by the government, which pledged Ukraine would meet required "standards of democracy and human rights."
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Damascus - About one quarter of the Christians in Syria have been displaced or left Syria, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III told BBC news.
The Patriarch claimed that more than 450,000 Christians fled or were internally displaced out of the total of 1.75 million Christians in Syria. However, he was certain that the community would survive the conflict.
|St. Catherine's Monastery which contains |
Muhammad's letter forbidding the religious persecution
The Patriarch urged the international community to stop the flow of weapons and military supplies into Syria. He said: "We have to have campaign together - no more weapons, no more violence, go together to a better new vision of life". The Patriarch also claimed that the Christian community was not dependent upon the secular Assad government for survival. He even thought that the community could help mediate between the two warring sides.
The Patriarch is accused by some of supporting the Assad government but he strongly denies this. Although he wants foreign fighters to go home, he favors a government of national unity. The issue of the removal of Assad he considered secondary.
Some Christians have adopted unusual measures to try and secure safety. About 50,000 Syrian Christians want to obtain Russian citizenship. They are not planning to flee Syria but they think that if they are threatened with physical elimination they hoped that they would obtain protection from Russia. A letter requesting citizenship was sent to Moscow through diplomatic channels. There is no request for financial or other aid: “We will be under the protection of Russia if we face the threat of being physically eliminated by terrorists” .
There have been numerous attacks on Christians in Syria. Gregorios noted that there were bombs planted in the confessional in the rebel held town of Yabroud often praised as one of the few remaining centers of religious tolerance in Syria.
The Cathedral of Constantine and Helen where the bombs were discovered is one of the oldest churches in the world. A local council has tried to keep jihadists and local gangs in line as well as keeping out Assad troops. The Patriarch noted: "Yabroud is under the control of armed groups, and Christians are asked for protection money, yet in spite of this, there are these bombs being placed in the church." The Patriarch said that he had no fear of Islam but only of the influence of extremist groups. Other Christian towns have been overrun by rebels including the historic town of Maaloula. The appended video shows the battle to retake the town.
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/360375#ixzz2i0WlCtzT
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
God expects each of us to witness and invoke unity. We, Greek Catholics, are the living and real model of the unity of the Church, which has been tested for centuries. Therefore, we have to feel responsible for the cause of unity and to be a model of it.
Because we belong both to the Christian East and West, the schism goes through our whole being. Unfortunately, for the thousand years of the schism, we must state that the Roman Catholic Church has learned to cope without the Orthodox Church, just like the Orthodox Church has done so without the Roman Catholic Church. Each of them lives its life without needing the other. But we Greek Catholics need both the Christian East and West; the desire to find ways to unity has disappeared from our Church.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Written by Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service Thursday, 26 September 2013 15:54
"Although we don't create obstacles for these people in their relations with God, our church speaks in traditional language on issues like this," said Father Ihor Yatsiv, spokesman for the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
"We haven't received requests so far for special treatment from homosexuals, and we've no plans to introduce any pastoral facilities for them," he told Catholic News Service in late September.
In excerpts from an interview published Sept. 20 on the Eastern Catholic Church's website, Ukrainian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych rejected EU calls for greater homosexual rights under a planned Ukraine-EU association agreement.
"We are mistaken if we believe we have to opt for these diseases to attain European prosperity," the archbishop said.
"Today, the EU looks like a teenager experiencing the restraints of morality, who needs a Christian education. Europe was not founded on same-sex couples, but on respect for human dignity."
EU officials have warned that new laws banning "propaganda of homosexuality" in Ukraine and Russia are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and have called on Ukraine to tighten its anti-discrimination rules.
A mid-September letter to members of Parliament from Ukraine's National Council of Churches and Religious Organizations said greater homosexual rights would "promote the advertising of homosexuality" and restrict "free speech for supporters of traditional families."
Eastern and Latin Catholics make up a tenth of the Ukrainian population of 50 million, compared to around a third who belong to three rival Orthodox denominations.
During a March visit to Brussels, Catholic and Protestant leaders backed accession to the EU, although closer links are opposed by Ukraine's opposition Communist Party and the largest Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is linked to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In his interview, Archbishop Shevchuk said tolerant attitudes to homosexuality were "spreading in Ukrainian society," adding that EU requirements were based on "pseudo-values" and "different conceptions of morality."
Father Yatsiv said the Ukrainian Catholic Church held the same views as Pope Francis, who said in an interview published Sept. 19 in Jesuit publications he did not want homosexuals to feel the Catholic Church had "always condemned them."
"There's no tension between the standpoints of the pope and our archbishop -- they're saying the same things, just in different words," the spokesman told CNS.
In August, the spokesman for Russia's Catholic Church also ruled out pastoral facilities for gays and lesbians after international calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics to protest Russia's alleged mistreatment in the country.
"Homosexuality is a totally marginal issue in Russian society -- there's not great interest in it here," said Msgr. Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of Russia's bishops' conference.
"There are very few homosexuals in our Catholic communities, and we direct our pastoral work at individuals, not groups. But we don't exclude homosexual people either," he said.
Beirut - Jihadist fighters linked to al-Qaeda set fire to statues and crosses inside churches in northern Syria on Thursday and destroyed a cross on a church clock tower, a watchdog said.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters entered the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation in the northern city of Raqa and torched the religious furnishings inside, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights said.
They did the same at the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, and also destroyed a cross atop its clock tower, replacing it with the ISIL flag, the Observatory said.
Most of Raqa, located on the banks of the Euphrates River and capital of the province of the same name, fell to anti-regime fighters in March.
Where the ISIL dominates in the city, it imposes a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on the populace.
The London-based Observatory denounced these attacks "against the freedom of religion, which are an assault on the Syrian revolution".
Not only have there been attacks on Christian places of worship in Syria, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country wracked by more than two years of civil war, but also on Shi'ite Muslim mosques.
Additionally, Christians clerics have been kidnapped, and some brutally murdered, by jihadists.
In January, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, said: "The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country."
"Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship."
The New York-based group said that "while some opposition leaders have pledged to protect all Syrians, in practice the opposition has failed to properly address the unjustified attacks against minority places of worship".
At the outset of the rebellion against President Bashar Assad, rebels welcomed the support of jihadist groups, largely made up of foreign fighters.
But the jihadists, where they have reached a position of dominance in specific parts of the country, are increasingly alienating the native population.
On Thursday, an ISIL commander from the United Arab Emirates was killed in fighting with Kurds in the north of Syria, the Observatory said.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
by Raymond Ibrahim
While many were fixated on Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent letter to the American people, another letter from another Russian leader—this one directly addressed to the U.S. president—was missed.
On September 10, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill issued a letter addressed to "His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President, United States." Whether one wishes to interpret this communique as a product of politics or sincerity, it accurately highlights the plight of Syria's Christians, especially in the broader context of a larger civilizational struggle.
I repost major portions of the letter below, interspersed with my observations for added context:
Your Excellency, Dear Mr. President,This is an important point: the "news reports" evaluated by the Russian church are from "living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country." The fact is, outside of America's biased "mainstream media," the evidence concerning what is going on in Syria—namely, that Islamic militants are committing human rights atrocities, including possibly the chemical attacks in question—is overwhelming. Countless eyewitness testimonies, videos, pictures—all those things that rarely make it to the U.S. MSM—make this abundantly clear.
The tragic events in Syria have raised anxiety and caused pain in the Russian Orthodox Church. We receive information about the situation there not from the news reports but from living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country.
Ask the average Syrian about the current turmoil engulfing their land—and I have, as have numerous Russian Orthodox representatives in communion with Syria's ancient Christian community, as noted by Kirill—and few have any illusions as to its nature: an authoritarian, but secular, Assad vs. radical Islamists and jihadis.
Naturally most Syrians choose Assad.
Only in America, and to a lesser extent Western Europe, is the myth of "freedom fighters" trying to "liberate" Syria still being peddled.
Syria today has become an arena of the armed conflict. Engaged in it are foreign mercenaries and militants linked with international terrorist centres. The war has become an everyday golgotha for millions of civilians.To be sure, one of the most obvious indicators that this is no "civil war" in the name of "liberty" is the fact that the majority, up to 95%, of those fighting Assad are not even Syrian, but rather al-Qaeda linked jihadis—from Chechnya to the Philippines—trying to form an Islamic emirate in Syria as they did in the 1980s-90s in Afghanistan. Back then, foreign jihadis like Saudi Osama bin Laden and Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri—again, also supported by the U.S.—traveled to Afghanistan, "liberated" it from the U.S.S.R, and then gave us 9/11 in return a decade later.
Here, for example, is a video of foreign militants in a conquered Syrian town singing praises in honor of Osama bin Laden: "They called me a terrorist and I said 'that will be my honor,' this is a divine call …. We defeated America … the Trade [Center] became a bunch of rubble … Greetings from the Taliban and its leader mullah Omar… Victory is ours, winning is ours, and Allah with all his strength is with us, the infidel masses have come together to defeat us but they will not defeat us."
We were deeply alarmed to learn about the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria. Undoubtedly, it will bring ever greater sufferings to the Syrian people, first of all, to the civilian population. An external military intervention may result in the radical forces coming to power in Syria who will not be able and will not wish to ensure inter-confessional accord in the Syrian society.
U.S. military intervention would undoubtedly lead to even more human rights abuses, first and foremost at the hands of al-Qaeda jihadis—who in fact are on record vowing to slaughter Christians after the U.S. intervenes and overthrows Assad; Obama just waived a U.S. law prohibiting the banning of terrorist organizations simply to arm and ultimately help them realize their ambitions.U.S. military intervention would undoubtedly lead to even more human rights abuses, first and foremost at the hands of al-Qaeda jihadis—who in fact are on record vowing to slaughter Christians after the U.S. intervenes and overthrows Assad; Obama just waived a U.S. law prohibiting the banning of terrorist organizations simply to arm and ultimately help them realize their ambitions.
Our special concern is for the fate of the Christian population of Syria, which in that case will come under the threat of total extermination or banishment. It has already happened in the regions of the country seized by militants. An attempt made by the armed groups of the Syrian opposition to seize the town of Ma'loula whose residents are predominantly Christians has become a new confirmation of our concerns. The militants keep shelling the town in which ancient Christian monasteries are located—the sites of special veneration by the faithful all over the world.All absolutely true—especially "the threat of total extermination or banishment," which has been the case wherever and whenever U.S.-backed Islamists come to power:
- Afghanistan: Under U.S. auspices, the supposedly "moderate" Karzai government still upholds the apostasy law—persecuting those who seek to convert to Christianity, making them just as intolerant as the Taliban—and, under U.S. auspices, destroyed the nation's last Christian church.
- Iraq: After the U.S. "liberated" the nation from Saddam Hussein, the "chemical-weapon-using-tyrant"—sound familiar?—Christians are still being terrorized into extinction, more than half leaving their homeland.
- Libya: Since U.S-backed terrorists came to power—giving American the Benghazi consulate attack on the anniversary of 9/11—the tiny Christian community there has been persecuted, including bombed churches and threatened nuns—things unprecedented under the "tyrant" Gaddafi.
- Egypt: After coming to power, the Obama administration's Muslim Brotherhood allies enforced draconian blasphemy codes against Christians and are currently destroying countless churches and in some regions forcing Christians to pay jizya.
- Syria: Atrocities against Christians by the U.S.-backed jihadis know no bounds—such as the recent gang rape and slaughter of a 15-year-old Christian girl by the U.S.-supported "freedom fighters." And now in Ma'loula, Christians are being forced to choose between converting to Islam or dying and other atrocities.
The Christian hierarchs of Aleppo, Metropolitans Paul and John Ibrahim, have been held captive by militants since April 22. Nothing is known about their fate despite of the fact that a number of religious figures appealed to the leaders of their states to help to release them.Indeed, here is yet another example of the nature of the people the U.S. government is supporting. Paul and John Ibrahim were traveling in Syria doing "humanitarian work" when their driver was killed and they were kidnapped. Maybe John McCain can phone his al-Qaeda kidnapping allies and ask them to release them? At any rate, there is no end to the amount of Christians, like Fr. Murad, who have been kidnapped and/or slaughtered by the jihadis in Syria.
I am deeply convinced that the countries which belong to the Christian civilization bear a special responsibility for the fate of Christians in the Middle East.Here the good patriarch speaks a language that may have once resonated with Americans and Europeans—that is, the people from "the countries which belong to the Christian civilization"—but which is increasingly meaningless to those whose "humanitarian concerns" extend to anyone but those unfashionable Christians, and to some American Protestants who are unaware that Christians actually exist outside of the U.S.
As do all eastern churches, however, the Russian Orthodox Church has centuries long experience with Islamic oppression and violence—beginning with the "Tatar yoke" and continuing to the present—and hence, not only sympathizes with the plight of Near East Christians, many of whom are Orthodox, but, as Putin himself recently asserted in a Russian conference dealing with the plight of Christians under Islam, "Russia has tremendous experience in reaching and maintaining inter-confessional peace and accord, and is ready to share it."
The Russian Orthodox Church knows the price of human sufferings and losses since in the 20th century our people survived two devastating world wars which claimed millions of lives and ruined many people's lives. We also regard as our own pain the pain and losses the American people suffered in the terrible terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.Alas, some people remember the lessons of history, to their benefit; others forget, to their regret.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (Regnery, April, 2013) is a Middle East and Islam specialist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.