ICC Note: The Patriarch of Antioch, whose brother was one of the church leaders kidnapped by militants, says that radical terror has forced Syrian Christians to flee. This terrorism is a result of Syria’s seven-year civil war that still has no clear end in sight. Christians are caught in the crosshairs of Syria’s warring factions and the terrorists who have taken advantage of the power vacuum.
04/30/2018 Syria (Christian Post) – An Orthodox Christian church patriarch based in Syria has warned that radical terror has “succeeded” in Syria, with mass killings, kidnappings, and countless Christians forced to flee in the seven years of civil war.
Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch, All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, said in a speech at the Global Christian Forum in Colombia on Wednesday that the Aleppo community recently marked the fifth anniversary of the abduction of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Boulos Yazijy and the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim.
“These two men of God presented no threat to anyone. As disciples of Christ, called by Him to tend His sheep; they were fully dedicated to their mission. Their care and compassion went beyond their immediate flock. It was extended to the community at large regardless of their religious affiliation, which earned them the love and respect of the entire society in Aleppo,” he said in prepared remarks.
“Their abduction, we believe, was a clear message targeting the Christian population of Aleppo in particular and of Syria in General. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this heinous act of terrorism and barbarism which amounts to a crime against humanity, have succeeded in their mission,” he added.
“Thousands of Christians have left Aleppo following the abduction of the two Archbishops and hundreds of thousands have left Syria since the beginning of this global war against Syria.”
Aphrem said that despite Christians being decimated, caught in the crossfire of the civil war and targeted by various radical factions, those few still living in Aleppo remain “steadfast” in their “faith in Christ.”
The patriarch reflected that Christianity is “not welcomed in the world because it puts people out of their comfort zone” and challenges their philosophical convictions.
He pointed out that today, Christians throughout the world face massive persecution, as they have for many centuries in the past. He reminded the audience of the slaughter of more than half a million Syriac speaking people by the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago, part of the Armenian genocide.
“Today, we continue to suffer persecution at the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Nusra and others, who are targeting Christian congregations and have completely destroyed many of our churches and other institutions,” he said.
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