Many thanks to Gallia Watch for translating this important interview with Mgr. Jean-Clément Jeanbart, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo: The last Christians in Aleppo. We are reposting the full text below, with our emphases.
(The original French text is on Boulevard Voltaire.)
After describing the dramatic situation the Aleppines are living through, the bishop addressed the journalists who had come to hear him.
"The European media have not ceased to suppress the daily news of those who are suffering in Syria and they have even justified what is happening in our country by using information without taking the trouble to verify it," he hurled at them, condemning notably the press agencies created during the war, controlled by the opposition army, such as the Syrian Observatory of human rights, a major source for western media.
"You must understand that between the Islamic State and the Syrian government, our choice is obvious. You can condemn the regime for certain things, but you have never tried to be objective," he accused.
When asked if he had been able to explain his position to the French authorities, bishop Jeanbart said he had tried, and was told he had to be "less critical".
For him, the West has not ceased to cover up the misdeeds of the opposition army, all the while condemning the Syrian government and its president.
"Bashar al-Assad has many defects, but you have to realize he has many good points as well," he explained. "Schools are free, hospitals too, mosques and churches pay no taxes, what government in the region does things like that, be honest? Remember too that if we prefer today to support the government, it's because we fear the installation of a sunni theocracy that would deprive us of the right to live on our own lands."
"Yes, I tried to say all that to the French authorities, but what can you expect from a Laurent Fabius who thinks he's God the Father by deciding who deserves to live on this Earth or not?" he finally answered, visibly weary. (Laurent Fabius had declared that Bashar al-Assad "did not deserve to be on the Earth".)
"Is it possible that France - that I love and that educated me thanks to the religious communities established in Syria - has changed so much? Is it possible that its interests and its love of money have prevailed over the values it once defended?" declared the archbishop bitterly.
Asked about the position of French bishops, the Pakistani bishop who was also present did not want to respond. So bishop Jeanbart took the mike again.
"The conference of French bishops should have trusted us, it would have been better informed. Why are your bishops silent on a threat that is yours today as well? Because the bishops are like you, raised in political correctness. But Jesus was never politically correct, he was politically just!"
"The responsibility of a bishop is to teach, to use his influence to transmit truth. Why are your bishops afraid of speaking? Of course they would be criticized, but that would give them a chance to defend themselves, and to defend this truth. You must remember that silence often means consent."
The archbishop also criticized the migration policies of the Western countries.
"The egoism and the interests slavishly defended by your governments will in the end kill you as well. Open your eyes, didn't you see what happened recently in Paris?" added the archbishop before concluding with a plea:
"We need you to help us live in our land! (…) I cannot stand by while our two thousand-year-old church disappears. I prefer to die than to see that."