Thursday, 17 October 2013

Persecuted and Forgotten

Persecuted and Forgotten is the title of a report launched today and available on the web at I was invited to the launch which was hosted by Lord Rowan Williams in the House of Lords. The guest of honour was the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch who lives in Damascus. Also speaking was Sister Hanan of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Beirut who have been assisting thousands of refugees fleeing from the Syrian conflict into neighbouring Lebanon. 15,000 people of all faiths pass through their dispensary each week. Sister Hanan said that the majority of displaced Syrians coming to Beirut are women and children and she described the apalling and dangerous conditions in which they are living.

In the report is a world map showing the areas where Christians are being persecuted and/or oppressed. This is undoubtedly a real and significant issue - if you want the details look at the report.

Among those present at the launch were church leaders, MPs, and members of the House of Lords.
What I heard today needs time for further reflection but I share with you some quotations from Patriarch Gregory.

From Patriarch Gregory who is living and working for peace in Syria:

"There is no safe place left in Syria."

"No war can be won in the whole world with weapons"

"Please Europe, don't send more weapons, it means more victims."

"Please give us not weapons, give us peace."

"If we are now the church of martyrs we will be the church of resurrection in the future."

"We must be together and remain together, Christian and Muslim,
for the good of Syria and the Arab world;
It is possible to be together and remain together, Christian and Muslim,
for the good of Syria and the Arab world;
We will  be together and remain together, Christian and Muslim,
for the good of Syria and the Arab world."

Gracious God,
We pray for those who are persecuted and oppressed;
We pray for those who have had to flee their homes;
We pray for those who are violated and abused.
God who reaches into the depths;
      Touch them with your comfort,
      Touch us with your love.
God who sees all creation;
      Look on them with pity,
      Open our eyes to their need.
God who hears the cries of the poor;
      Hear them when they call,
      Open our ears to their weeping,
that the church of martyrs
may become the church of resurrection.

1 comment:

David said...

We must never forget the ordinary people of all faiths who are caught up in conflict. A few years ago we visited a Church in Ramallah. The warmth and energy given to welcome us. Even though we didn't understand a word, we knew and felt the care and love.
On a lighter note. The previous evening just as we were starting to eat our meal in a restaurant, I developed a real stormer of a nosebleed. The Bar man appeared and threw a massive handful of ice down the neck of my shirt. The bleeding stopped immediately! David