2015-10-20 16:46:00

Russian Church calls on West not to supply arms to Mideast militants

Moscow, October 20, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate is concerned over attempts to eradicate Christianity in the Middle East and the supplies of arms to local militants.

"Tragically, few western politicians have listened to the voices of Christian leaders who have called for, and continue to call for, an end to supplying militants with arms," head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said at a conference dedicated to the situation with Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in Athens.

The number of Christians in Iraq has fallen 10 times over the past 12 years as a result of the Arab Spring, while "those who remain find themselves today in a catastrophic position, deprived of all property and all hope of a peaceful and prosperous future," the press service of the External Church Relations Department quoted Metropolitan Hillarion as saying. More than 100,000 Christians left Iraq last year alone, he said.

"Mass executions take place in Libya of absolutely innocent Christians, a once stable country has been turned into an arena of tribal wars, to be a Christian there is extremely dangerous. Of 100,000 Christians there only a few thousand remain, and the threat to their lives continues," he said.

Extremists who invaded Syria "have spread genuine bloody terror to Christians." "We still know nothing of the fate of Metropolitans Paul (Yazidji) of Aleppo and Gregory John (Ibrahim), kidnapped two and a half years ago. Almost two hundred Assyrians are held in captivity by ISIL, kidnapped in February of this year in the valley of the River Kabur. Three of them were recently executed by terrorists. The Christian quarters of Damascus and Aleppo are subject to endless gunfire," he said.

"Today in the Middle East we are witnessing the unprecedented wholesale destruction of Christianity. The endless executions and kidnappings, the destruction of ancient holy sites and the expulsion of Christians from their homelands cannot but alarm the Christian Churches," Metropolitan Hillarion said.