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Middle East patriarchs fight for peace

2010-10-21

The Patriarch of Antioch for the Melkite Greek in Syria said that if the international community created Israel then they also must bring peace there.  He noted that peace in the Middle East will contribute to improved relations across the world.

Gregorios Laham III
Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkite Greek (Syria)
"We need to help Israel today for peace. Israel can not make peace because it maintains  dual ideals. One is religious, that Israel is the Promised Land, and they should stay there, and the second is its national ideas."

Gregorios Laham stressed that Jerusalem is the center of faith for Christians, Jews and Muslims. Because of this he suggested that the political capital be moved to another city.

For his part, the Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, said both the Churches and governments are doing everything possible to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Antonios Naguib
Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts (Egypt)
"The Holy See, our local churches, the Ecumenical Council of the Middle East and the governments of our countries, especially in Egypt, are doing everything to bring the two parties together to consider the positive aspects of their people and have the courage to make difficult decisions to achieve a just and lasting peace."

The patriarchs also spoke of religious freedom in the Middle East.

Gregorios Laham III said that Saudi Arabia is the only country with no freedom of worship. In addition, the Patriarch Naguib said there is still no freedom of conscience in the Middle East.

Gregorios Laham III
Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkite Greek (Syria)
"There is freedom of worship throughout the Arab world except Saudi Arabia. All at different levels, because the situation in Lebanon is different from Syria, Jordan or Egypt. "

Antonios Naguib
Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts (Egypt)

"Freedom of religion is generally secured, but freedom of conscience is much less secure. For this reason the Synod emphasized the importance of adapting to freedom, respect for the freedom of others and to overcome religious interests in favor of greater justice and equality. "

The Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians and Lebanese said that religious freedom must be guaranteed to all minorities living in the Middle East.

Youssif Ignace Younan III
Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians (Lebanon)
"The majority religion should allow religious freedom, especially that of conscience, for all minority religions, not just Christians."

All patriarchs have said that in recent years relations have improved with Muslims, and they are increasingly willing to talk. This is an important start to reach the desired peace in the Middle East.

PVB/AE
AM

-PR-