Mideast church leaders urge immediate int’l support for Iraq -
AMMAN — Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) have warned of the “deteriorating situation” in Iraq, calling for immediate international measures to support the Iraqi people.
“The people of Iraq are at risk of being dominated by political and religious extremism, a fact that calls upon us and the whole world to raise awareness and take immediate measures,” the presidents said in a statement released after an emergency meeting in Amman last Thursday.
The leaders of the MECC condemned all forms of violence against churches, mosques and other religious institutions, encouraging “all Christians and people of goodwill to stand strong and not be afraid and to remember that they, together with their Muslim brothers and sisters, are the children of the same land and all share a common human nature and destiny”.
“Therefore, we must respect and support one another as brothers and sisters,” they said.
The statement was released after a meeting called for by MECC Secretary General Michel Jalakh and hosted by Theophilos III, patriarch of Jerusalem and president of the Eastern Orthodox family.
The meeting gathered MECC co-presidents Ignatius Youssef III Younan, patriarch of Antioch for the Syriac Catholic Church and president of the Catholic family; Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of the Evangelical family; and Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church and president of the Oriental Orthodox family.
Pastor Habib Badr, president of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut and honorary treasurer of MECC, also attended the meeting.
The presidents, who voiced appreciation for His Majesty King Abdullah’s support and advocacy for the Christian presence in the Kingdom, expressed their solidarity with refugees.
“The presidents stand in compassion and prayer for all those in exile, displaced in Syria and in neighbouring countries. We call upon all concerned parties to seek reconciliation without racial or religious discrimination,” they said in the statement.
“We call to release the two kidnapped archbishops, Boulos Yaziji and Yuhanna Ibrahim, in addition to all kidnapped priests and innocent people,” they added.
“Furthermore, the presidents of MECC... call upon peacemakers in the entire international community, to defend the dignity and rights of all humans as well as freedom of religious expression, to quickly and effectively interfere in order to help our people be liberated from the dreadful spiral of hatred and violence,” the statement said.
“We strongly condemn all forms of violence, regardless of who is the perpetrator, while simultaneously praying for peace, justice and reconciliation. We extend these prayers all over the world, but especially for all people of the Holy Land, to pursue peace, so that Jerusalem may be a beacon of peace throughout the world.”