Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 
Gospel which survived the destruction in Baghdad's Cathedral of Our Lady of Deliverance

Christian Bloodbath in

Baghdad's Cathedral of Our Lady of Deliverance

Condolences and Prayers of Patriarch Gregorios

Rabweh, November 8, 2010

PPCrest
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
of Antioch and All the East
of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

The carnage which took place on Sunday, November 1, 2010 in the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad was of an unprecedented cruelty and barbarity. It was an attack capable of undermining the good will of genuine bridge-builders between cultures, brave heroes of inter-religious dialogue, as well as the optimism of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

I offer my sincere condolences and the assurance of my prayers and those of our Church to His Beatitude Patriarch Ignace-Joseph III (Younan), to His Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel III (Delly) and to all those who are broken-hearted at this crime.

We know that this criminal act is not the work of authentic Islam, and cannot be based on it. Despite that, we hold Muslims in Iraq and in all Arab countries to be responsible for Christian security, since they have power, and control the army and police force.

We urge Arab countries to study the reality of fundamentalist terrorism and the trends that feed on it. This is a global Islamic responsibility, because showing Islam under that guise is a disfigurement of authentic Islam. The real enemies of Islam and Muslims are neither "Islamophobia" nor "Christian Europe," but rather these fundamentalist organisations and trends.

They are also the enemies of Christianity and of every Christian and Muslim social and human value, whether Arab or not.

Christians are peaceable, patriotic, loyal, faithful to their homeland and countries, tolerant and naturally inclined to forgiveness. But they are not passive, cowardly, timid, any more than they are inclined to be humiliated. They are not sheep, designed to be slaughtered by fundamentalists. Christians are builders of values, nations and cultures, including Islamic culture itself.

If Muslims do nothing to safeguard this creative strain represented by Arab Christians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, the prosperity and drive of Islamic culture will be in danger of collapse, and Muslims will then be their own worst enemies, enemies of their faith and of their countries.

Dear Muslim and Christian Arab brothers, let us adopt a unifying way of talking and act together to build a better future for all our children and compatriots!

Gregorios IIISignature

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,

of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


 
Patriarch Gregory sitting on a chair on a porch

Appeal of His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III (Laham)

For Prayer and Forgiveness

For the victims of violence and fanaticism in Iraq:

Christians and Muslims together for the rejection of violence and fanaticism

Rabweh March 10, 2010

Violence, fanaticism, terrorism, enmity, dislocation, or rather persecution, continue incessantly to decimate our beloved brothers, the few Christians especially, in that dear country Iraq, which has descended into chaos, rout, licentiousness, tribalism, laxity, massacre, destruction and terrorism in all its ugliness.

This is the confirmed state of affairs borne out by the following facts:

  1. From 2003 to 2010, about two thousand Christians have been killed in different districts, following successive waves of violence.
  2. Between 17 February and 1 March, eight hundred and seventy Christian families, numbering some four thousand four hundred persons, have left Mosul because of confessional violence.
  3. During the month of October 2008, twelve thousand Christians left Mosul, fleeing violence.
  4. Forty per cent of Iraqi refugees are Christian. In all, there are one million six hundred thousand Iraqi refugees.
  5. Forty-four per cent of Iraqi refugees in Syria are Christian. Our Churches in Syria receive them and offer them help as best they can.
  6. The number of Christians is declining and diminishing in a tragic way. In 1987, they numbered one million four hundred thousand: in 2003, they were fewer than one million two hundred thousand. Now, in 2009, they are just six hundred thousand, representing three per cent of the twenty-seven and a half million total population of Iraq.

The drop in the numbers of Iraqi Christians, their expulsion and massacre is a tragedy for Iraq's Christians and Muslims alike.

That is why we are making an appeal to foreign governments and to that great spiritual leader, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, to make every effort to speak up in defense of Christians and of all victims of violence. We call upon all Iraq's sons, especially Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, who make up the majority of the population and appeal to their noble - for so it is! - Iraqi nature, beseeching and imploring them to protect Christians. He who murders a Christian is no Muslim, but a renegade to his Islamic faith.

We call everyone to solidarity, harmony and national unity in lovely Iraq. Christians are an integral part of that national unity and of the rich, pluralist Iraqi social fabric. We call upon them: all you Christians and Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, you are equally responsible for the unity of your country. We entreat them: let us Muslims and Christians stay together and God be with us. He wants us to stay together, as we have always done throughout history, with our common culture, heritage, faith and values. For our future and the future of the faith values of our Muslim and Christian Iraqi citizens are one and the same, and there is a single, common future for all Iraq's children.

Let us not forget those specialists in terrorism who love to create schemes and disturbances and are the enemies of Christianity and Islam alike: they are the ones behind most of the attacks and acts of terror in more than one Arab country.

In conclusion, we invite all our sons and daughters, the faithful of our Melkite Greek Catholic Church, pastors, priests, monastics, deputies, ministers, members of institutes and confraternities from all walks of public life, to take part in great numbers in the Day of Solidarity with Iraq's Christians on March 13 2010, at Our Lady of Rihan in Harissa. There we shall pray together to our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, imploring the intercession of our Holy Mother, the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, for security, peace, compassion, solidarity and stability for all our brothers and sisters of Iraq.

On that day, I shall be on a brotherly visit to India, staying with our dear brother St. Thomas Christians in Kerala.

We shall be meeting in great numbers for prayer, forgiveness and peace in Harissa.

And may the God of Peace fill us to the brim with his Peace, his security and his Love.

+ Gregorios III

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,

Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

Translation from the French: V. Chamberlain

 
Patriarch Gregory sitting on a chair on a porch

A statement from

His Beatitude Gregory III

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem

Issued - Boston, Massachusetts August 2, 2004

During our pastoral visit to the United States of America for the Installation of the Most Reverend Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros as the 4th Eparch of Newton for the Melkite Greek Catholics in the United States, we learned from the news media that five churches in Baghdad and Mossul have been bombed, killing and wounding innocent people who were praying in these Sacred Houses of God for peace in the world.

We offer to the Almighty God our fervent prayers for the deceased and the wounded victims, as well as for every soul in distress in the cherished land of Iraq.

We have no doubt that the perpetrators of these crimes aim at hurting all Iraqis of all religious denominations. Only impious people without any sense of morality are able to commit such cruelties.

We appeal to our Iraqi brothers to stand together in defense of their national unity. It is their only safeguard against the plots that aim at destroying Iraq's integrity, security, and independence. These misdeeds are also meant to thwart the efforts that are being exerted to secure a better standard of living for the Iraqis and the inhabitants of the whole Middle East.

(signed) Gregorios III

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

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