Eastern Catholic Prelates Warn Of 'Disaster' If U.S. Strikes Syria
The Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, who is the leader of the Melkite Catholic Church, the leader of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, and a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church have all warned the United States and other western countries that armed action against Syria would be a “disaster” and would destroy any chance of future dialogue and reconciliation.
According to AsiaNews.it, Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch of the East, an American-led assault on Syria would be “a criminal act, which will only reap more victims.”
“We must listen to the Pope’s appeal for peace in Syria. If western countries want to create true democracy then they must build it on reconciliation, through dialogue between Christians and Muslims, not with weapons.”
The prelate added that a U.S. attack against Damascus will destroy the Arab world’s trust in the West.
“The voice of Christians,” said the patriarch, “is that of the Holy Father. At this time we must be pragmatic. Syria needs stability and an armed attack against the government really has no sense at all.”
Rebuking the policies of the U.S., and speaking directly about President Obama and his “red line,” Gregory III asked:
What or who have led Syria to this thin red line, this point of no return? Who created this hell in which our people have been living for months? Every day Islamic extremists from all over the world are pouring into Syria with the sole intent to kill and not one country has done anything to stop them; even the U.S. has decided to send in more weapons.
The patriarch emphasized that the planned U.S. attack will affect the Syrian people above all in no less serious manner than the use of chemical weapons.
According to Gregory III, western nations continue to support a non-existent opposition, which has no authority in Syria.
“All preparation for the Geneva 2 Conference has been stopped,” he said. “The word dialogue is now forgotten. For months the western countries have wasted time in discussions, while people were dying under Assad’s bombs and attacks by Islamic al-Qaeda extremists.”
A possible Islamist victory, the prelate warned, would pave the way for a country divided into small enclaves in which Christians would be “ghettoized,” an outcome that would be detrimental since Christians help to moderate Islam.
“The disappearance of the Christians,” he said, “is a danger not only for Syria, but for all of Europe. Our presence is the essential condition for a moderate Islam, which exists thanks to the Christians.”
“Our community dwindles every day,” said the patriarch. “Young people are fleeing, families leave their homes and villages.”
Similarly, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church told the Fides news service that an American military assault on Syria would be a “disaster.”
According to Catholic World News, the prelate warned that Syria could be torn apart by “a proliferation of jihadist militias,” which would leave the country in chaos.
The Chaldean Patriarch observed that Iraq is still suffering from the consequences of U.S.- led intervention 10 years ago. With Iraq “still battered by bombs, security problems, by the instability of the economic crisis,” he said the destructive results of western intervention in neighboring Syria would be disastrous.
Like Gregory III, Louis Raphael I urged a responsible approach to the crisis in which negotiation is pushed.
Portraying a U.S.-led attack on Syria as imperialistic and without concern for its likelihood of promoting the cause of Islamist extremism, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church rebuked the United States for a planned assault.
“Once again, as was the case in Iraq, the U.S. is acting as an international executioner,” Metropolitan Hilarion told the AsiaNews service. “Once again thousands of lives will be sacrificed on the altar of an imaginary democracy.”
Hilarion said that Syrian Christians could easily become “hostages to the situation and the main victims of radical extremist forces who, with the help of the United States, will come to power.”
On Sunday, Pope Francis renewed his call for peace in Syria and urged international leaders to “find a solution to a war that sows destruction and death.”