Moscow, November 22, Interfax - The persecutions of Christians in the Middle East have become the largest ever in world history, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said.
"Never before has the Christian world gone through what it is going through now. By the number of slain Christians, the persecution in Russia was crueler and more large-scale but if you look at it in proportion, not in absolute but in relative figures, what is happening in the Middle East can be called a genocide of the Christian population," the patriarch said at a meeting with a delegation from the Patriarchate of Antioch in Moscow.
The extermination of Christians "changes the balance, changes the nature of the peoples living there," Patriarch Kirill said.
He recalled his visit to Damascus, then "a prospering city."
"The tragic events that are now taking place there cause a feeling of grief in all those aware of the possible consequences of these events," the patriarch said.
He expressed solidarity with and sympathy for the suffering people of Syria and Iraq, and offered reassurances that the Russian Orthodox Church "will further continue to do all it can to help the suffering people and to secure swift cessation of hostilities and establishment of a lasting and just peace."