On Friday, Bishop Nicholas Ozone, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of America, a constituent part of the Local Church of Antioch and all the East, called for the world community to peacefully resolve the “endless war” in Syria, amidst American talk of military intervention in the two-year civil war. Bishop Nicholas told RIA-Novosti that the entire world community needs “to sit down together and, through peaceful conversation, agree on a resolution instead of this endless war. That’s my message”. Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Syria’s mostly-Muslim population. Syrian Orthodox Christians are represented by the Church of Antioch and all the East (an Eastern Orthodox body), also known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the Syriac Orthodox Church (an Oriental Orthodox body).
On Friday, US President Barack Obama said that he was considering a “limited” attack in Syria, where, according to the UN, more than 100,000 people have already been killed in the civil war. US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech the same day that there was “clear” evidence that the Syrian government carried out toxic gas attacks on its own citizens.
The Syriac church said that unidentified assailants abducted two Christian hierarchs… the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo and the Greek Orthodox archbishop… in Syria in April, and their whereabouts are still unknown. About two weeks ago, the AP reported that unidentified gunmen killed a group of Christians in central Syria. Bishop Nicholas said that some 3 million Christians lived in Syria at the onset of the conflict, but since then, many fled to asylum in France, Britain, the USA, and Russia. He said that he hoped they’d return when the conflict was over.
In July, representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches gathered in Moscow for celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Christianisation of Kievan Rus, a medieval state comprising parts of modern-day Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus. They adopted a joint statement focusing on the position of Christians in the Middle East. It paid attention to persecution of Christians in the region and called for a moratorium on military actions in Syria.
So far, the UN Security Council hasn’t authorised any military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Previously, Moscow, along with Beijing, vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Russia urged all parties to the conflict to use diplomatic means to resolve it. Russia’s been Syria’s most important ally during the civil war. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it’s necessary to wait until UN experts finish their probe into claims that chemical weapons were used in Syria before considering military action.
31 August 2013