printer friendly versionPrint
Christian Exodus from Middle East

20 Jun 2012 – by Doreen Abi Raad

BEIRUT (CNS) — Catholic leaders warned about the dangers of a continued exodus of Christians from the Middle East during a Christian-Muslim dialogue meeting in a Beirut mosque.

“If the East is emptied of Christians, it will pave the way for a destructive conflict between Christians and Muslims,” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

“When Christians and Muslims work together, they are able to create a better future,” Cardinal Tauran said as the three-day meeting opened June 18. He called for Christians and Muslims “to work and live together in peace.”

Dozens of religious representatives participated in the meeting, which discussed “Christians and Muslims Building Justice and Peace Together in a Violent, Changing World.” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and Father Paul Rouhana, secretary-general of the Middle East Council of Churches, were among Catholics joining Anglican representatives, a Lebanese Sunni and four Iranian Shiites, including two ayatollahs.

A similar meeting was held March 2010 at the National Cathedral in Washington.

The patriarch of the Melkite Catholic Church warned that a destructive Islamic-Christian struggle would break out in the world if Christians ceased to exist in the Levant, a region on the eastern Mediterranean.

“The exodus of Christians means that Arab society becomes uniform and the Middle East will become a Muslim Arab society,” said Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham of Damascus, in a message read by Melkite Archbishop Issam Darwish of Zahle and Ferzol.

“If the East is emptied of Christians, it will pave the way for a destructive conflict between Christians and Muslims,” Patriarch Laham said in his statement.

“Coexistence is the future of these countries ... and there is no coexistence without Christians,” he said.





Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Holy Land Interreligious Christian-Muslim relations