Christians are ‘always the scapegoat’: Mideast church leaders reject war with Syria
ROME, August 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The head of the Maronite Catholic Church has accused the West of deliberately fomenting sectarian unrest in the Middle East for economic reasons and at the expense of millions of Christians.
Speaking from Lebanon, where thousands of Syrians have fled the conflict in their country, Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rai, the Maronite (Lebanese Catholic) Patriarch of Antioch, went so far as to say that there is a plot originating in the West to destroy the Middle East.
The patriarch told Vatican Radio of his fears of a plan to destroy the Arab world for what he said were “political and economic interests,” saying he had already written to the pope twice warning of this.
The West, for reasons of economics, have contributed to the “wars without end” in the Middle East “by giving billions of dollars to the [Egyptian] Muslim Brotherhood, so that they could get into power.”
He added that in such conflicts in the Middle East, it is always the indigenous Christian populations who suffer most, “as if they were always the scapegoat.”
“As always, when there is chaos or war, Muslims in general attack Christians, they use them as scapegoats. I am sorry, but in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood were the ones to attack Coptic churches – and Copts as well. Unfortunately this is the mentality of certain Muslims: every time there is a situation of chaos, Christians are attacked without even knowing why.”
“There is a plan to intensify inter-confessional conflict in the Muslim world, between Sunnis and Shi'ites,” he told Vatican Radio this week. “Unfortunately this is a policy that comes from abroad. There are countries, especially Western ones but also Eastern ones, that are fomenting these conflicts.”
Cardinal Rai told Vatican Radio that the Christian presence in the Middle East has created what stability there is. “
Thanks to the presence of us Christians and our daily life in all these Arab countries, he said, “we have created a certain moderation in the Muslim world,” the cardinal said.
“We Christians,” Rai said, “have been living alongside Muslims for 1,400 years, and we have spread the human and moral values of multi-confessionality, plurality, and modernity in these lands.”
Now, however, they are seeing “the total destruction of everything that Christians have built over the past 1,400 years.”
“In Iraq, out of a million-and-a-half Christians, we have lost one million without hearing a word from the international community,” he added.
At the core of the crisis in the Middle East is the “grave moral and economic crisis” of the West. Its “distorted idea of progress” stems from its “distorted view of man,” a highly placed Catholic prelate in Egypt has said.
Monsingor Giuseppe Nazzaro, the Episcopal Vicar for the area of upper Egypt and Cairo and former Vicar Apostolic of Aleppo told the Italian paper La Perfetta Letizia that everything that is happening in Syria “comes from the inability to understand that peace is not achieved with war.”
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Inside Jerusalem's Orthodox Patriarchate, Archbishop Theodosios (Atallah Hanna) of Sebastia, also referred to the “supporters” of the “ruthless terrorists” seeking to destabilize the Middle East.
He said that there are those who want to bring Syria and the whole Middle East back to an era of ignorance, a new “dark ages.”
The same groups setting fire to churches in Egypt are the ones who “want to destroy Syria.”
These “enemies of Syria,” he said aim at destroying the Arab communities and “national unity, and fraternity, and religious values.”