Moscow, October 17, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has described 50,000 Syrian Christians' decision to apply to the Russian Foreign Ministry for Russian citizenship as a key symbolic gesture and a sign confirming Russia's high authority.
"This appeal on the part of Syrian Christians vividly indicates Russia's high authority in the Middle East, especially among the Christian minorities living there. Christians are a core group of the population in Syria. However, today they are in danger of being banished from their homeland, which many of them have already been forced to leave," deputy head of the External Church Relations Department Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, told Interfax-Religion.
The Syrian Christians' appeal, addressed both to the Russian leadership and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, says that "we [Syrian Christians] constantly feel the support of the Russian Orthodox Church," he said.
"However, I believe that the Christians of Qalamoun, a Syrian region where the Christian population has lived for many centuries, realize that granting them Russian citizenship is hardly possible from a judicial standpoint. But their move was guided by the intention to stress that "the Christians of the East have known for centuries that no other country would take care of their interests better than Russia". It is not a secret that it is a great honor for me, as a Russian citizen and the Qalamoun residents' brother in faith, to hear that," he said.
The Moscow Patriarchate will continue taking every measure to support Syria's Christian population, should such a need arise, the priest said.
This group of Syrian Christians said in a letter to the Russian Foreign Ministry that "since Syrian law allows dual citizenship, we have decided to seek citizenship of the Russian Federation if this is possible. Russian citizenship would be an honor for any Syrian Christian who wished to acquire it."
The Christians of Qalamoun believe that the purpose of the Western-backed terrorists is to eliminate our presence in what is our native land, and with some of the most revolting methods as well, including savage murders of ordinary people," the letter says.
"None of the about 50,000 people - physicians, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, - who are willing to sign this application want to leave their homes. We possess all that we need, we are not asking for money," the letter says.