Rorate Caeli

Syria: let us pray for our Christian brethren

July 26, 1914
Seeing the unfolding events in the Syrian crisis is like watching the July 1914 Crisis, which will be widely discussed next year. We are not affirming that it is the beginning of a new continental or world war, not at all. However, as in the Balkan interventions of the early 20th century, it is clear that there is an interest of some Powers to pursue an armed intervention in an area where multiple, complex and deeply historical interests are at stake, it is absolutely clear that it cannot end well, and it is reasonably safe to predict that it may end with results that are opposed to the core interests of those same Powers. It is like witnessing a car crash and not being able to do anything.

Let us pray for those who will lose the most in any intervention, the weakest link in the Middle East: Christians.

From L'Osservatore Romano and the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, S.J. (The Tablet):

A Syrian Chaldean Catholic bishop yesterday warned that armed intervention in Syria could unleash a "world war".

Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo told Vatican Radio: "If there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war. That risk has returned."

The Syrian prelate was speaking as Britain and the US discussed plans for military action in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, plans strongly opposed by Russia and Iran.

"We hope that the Pope's call for real dialogue between the warring parties to find a solution can be a first step to stop the fighting," he said.

The Vatican's semi-official daily, L'Osservatore Romano, meanwhile criticised Western powers in an editorial and called for greater "prudence".

"The drumbeat of an armed intervention by Western powers is becoming ever more insistent and ever less restrained by prudence," it said.
From the Moscow Patriarchate (AsiaNews):

Moscow Patriarchate: acting as "international executioners," the US is sacrificing Muslims and Christians in Syria

Speaking to AsiaNews, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, condemns threats of NATO intervention without a UN mandate. More victims will be "sacrificed on the altar of an imaginary democracy".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - As a Western military intervention against the regime of Bashar al-Assad appears increasingly likely, the Russian Orthodox Church expresses "strong concern" about possible developments of the crisis, this following US charges that the regime used chemical weapons against civilians.

"Once again, as was the case in Iraq, the United States is acting as an international executioner", said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church strongly criticised the US position, which is "completely one-sided."

"Without the endorsement of the United Nations, they want to decide the fate of a whole country of millions of inhabitants."

"Once again," Hilarion warned, "thousands of lives will be sacrificed on the altar of an imaginary democracy;" among them, according to the Metropolitan, there are, first of all, "Christians, about whose fate no one cares."

They are at "risk of becoming hostages to the situation and the main victims of radical extremist forces, who, with the help of the United States, will come to power."

"The international community," he concluded, "must do everything to avoid that events develop in this direction." (M.A.)