CWN - The Orthodox patriarchs of the Holy Land have appealed to the European Union for help in combating a rising tide of anti-Christian violence.
In a statement issued this week, four Orthodox leaders remind their European counterparts that their Christian communities have survived for centuries with Muslim neighbors. “However, the recent increasing influence of extreme fundamentalist elements in the region, directly jeopardizes the lives of Christians in their ancient cradles,” the report. Their statement continues:
We witness daily aggressions against Christian places of worship, killings of innocent people, violent acts and atrocities against Christian properties, as well as violations of the most elementary human rights of Christians. Christians are thus forced towards expatriation. Thousands have already left their ancient cradles and have become refugees in various parts of the world, seeking more security.
The Orthodox prelates also ask Western Christian leaders to help them preserve access to the Christian shrines of the Holy Land, calling for cooperative efforts to “preserve and save from desecration and pillage the places of worship and the Christian cultural monuments in this tumultuous land, e.g. in Syria and the occupied Cyprus.” Regarding the violence in Syria, the Orthodox prelates observe that Syria has a history of allowing for open expression of different religious beliefs, and—without taking sides in the country’s current conflict—call for work toward “restoring peace and tranquility in that country.”
The statement was signed by Patriarchs Theodoros of Alexandria, Ignatius IV of Antioch, and Theopilos III of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus.