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Syriac Orthodox Bishop: Pope's visit to Turkey will spread message of coexistence

2014-11-27

Turkey has become the new home for more than a million and a half Syrian and Iraqi refugees. 

Near its borders, Kurdish fighters have been fighting to defend the Syrian city of Kobani since August from the seige by extremists of the Islamic State.

Pope Francis will be near this wounded Middle East during his visit to Turkey from November 28-30th. Catholics aren't the only ones that are celebrating the Pope's visit. Other Christian churches in the country hope that his presence will transmit a message of coexistence among religions. 

ARCH. PHILOXENUS SALIBA ÖZMEN
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
"I hope it will be a good opportunity for the peace of the Middle East between the religions, Muslims, Christians and others and especially throughout the world.” "I hope it will be a blessing for Turkey and all the churches in Turkey: Byzantine Orthodox churches, Oriental Orthodox churches, the Catholic church and the Protestant churches in Turkey.”

The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch extends precisely at the epicenter of the recent tragedy in the Middle East. There are communities in Lebanon, Syria, and southern Turkey, a country in which 99% of the population are Muslim. 

ARCH. PHILOXENUS SALIBA ÖZMEN
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
"In recent years, they have become better. We can talk about our history, our Christianity, to express our life and our faith. And on the other hand of course, because of the difficulties in the Middle East including Turkey, because of the problems made by the ISIS movements, so there are many problems have been raised in and all around the Middle East.”

Pope Francis has said on many occasions that he is saddened by the plight of Christians persecuted for their faith. For this reason, he has called on the international community to defend those persecuted in the Middle East. In Turkey, thousands of refugees who have been forced to flee in the aftermath of attacks by extremists are waiting for a word of consolation. 


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