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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "That the Year of Faith may be for Syria the Year of Reconciliation is the hope of Christians and all the Syrian people," is what the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Gregorios III, now in the Vatican to attend the Synod on the New Evangelization declares in an interview with Fides, on the eve of the opening of the Year of Faith. "We Christians in the Middle East,” explains Gregorios III, head of the Greek Catholic community which in Syria has over 150 thousand faithful – “feel an integral part of the Arab world and in this moment of difficulty, problems and fear, we have greater need to strengthen our faith, to be bearers of the Gospel. The presentation of the values of faith, made in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente is very important: it is up to us to make this our heritage – constituted by religious freedom, coexistence, citizenship, rights, solidarity and love. We Christians have always played a key role in the Middle East in culture, art, education and social work, and intend to continue to be leaven in society." The proposal of reconciliation in Syria is a direct expression of faith, for the Patriarch. "Reconciliation,” he warns, “is the only possible way forward: otherwise Syria heads towards death. In the ongoing conflict in Syria, chaos prevails and there are no appropriate answers. No one has any: neither the government nor the opposition, nor even the international community. We are in the dark and, in this situation, faith is the answer and reconciliation is our proposal." In such a state of political stalemate, the Patriarch supports the proposal of a "new diplomatic initiative to implement the Pope's appeals", released yesterday by Fides Agency, by Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan Syrian Orthodox of Aleppo. "We welcome any initiative that promotes reconciliation: the word reconciliation,” notes Gregorios III, “has been a constant, it has always been present in every even small intervention of the Holy Father in his last trip to Lebanon. Reconciliation is the lifeline for Syria and the future of Christians who, as St. Paul says, are 'all things to all men.’ The Church is not for or against the regime, but it is a community that wants to give a testimony of love and wants to save Syria." The Melkite Patriarch refers, finally, his own special initiative: "I asked the President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, to send the Holy Father’s speeches, from the recent trip to Lebanon, to the leaders of the Arab world as a message of peace and coexistence that radiates from Lebanon throughout the Middle East. This is the response to the Arab revolutions. And the president has welcomed my proposal." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 09/10/2012)

Adapted from  and with acknowledgments to: http://www.news.va/en/news/asiasyria-patriarch-gregory-iii-may-the-year-of-fa