Benedict XVI expressed surprise
a few weeks ago when he greeted the leader of the largest Christian community in
Iran, the archbishop of Tehran.
Of the 110,000 Christians who
live in Iran, 100.000 belong to the Armenian Church.
been in the country for centuries. Some of their churches were built during the
7th century. Their archbishop assures that Christians and Muslims have good
relations and that they do not feel threatened. For example, the Constitution
explicitly protects their rights. Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian
Diocese of Tehran in IranUnfortunately the media
is playing a tremendous role and sometimes they are using black glasses towards
Iran. Which is not true, we are living there, we are experiencing our life
there, what is heard about Iran is not true. Whenever we need
some help, for instance the government is helping us, they have decided and they
have given us somehow a budget every year for Christian communities all over
Iran, not only Armenians but others.
This doesn't mean there aren't
any problems. The country's Christians are aware that they are living in a
country with a Muslim majority.Archbishop Sebouh
Armenian Diocese of Tehran in IranIf
you by freedom you understand that we have to go and missionary Muslims we don't
have that. Because it is an Islamic country. I myself wouldn't be happy if a
Catholic or a Protestant comes and takes away from my church my believers. So
what do you expect from Muslims to be happy when we go and tell them that your
religion is false and ours is right. The time has been changed now, we're living
in a mutual understanding, respect and acceptance time and dialogue together.
For this reason, the main challenge of Christians in Iran is to keep
their churches, schools and culture alive and active. To achieve that they
engage in dialogue with other religions in order to protect common values, such
as the value of life and family. And Iran's 100,000 Christians know that it's
worth living as a respected minority.