15 February 2016, 10:12
Patriarch Kirill, Pope Francis call for stopping persecution of Christians in Middle East
Havana, February 15, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis have spoken in defense of Christians persecuted in different countries.
"We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defense of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence," Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis said in a joint declaration they signed following their first meeting in history, which took place at the Havana international airport on Friday.
"In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed," the declaration says.
The said region has seen "massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated," the document says.
"We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large-scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighboring lands," the declaration says.
The patriarch and the pontiff called upon "all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation."
"We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action," the declaration says.
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis urged "all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war."