"Great concern arisesfrom the condition of life faced by Christians who in many parts of the Middle
East suffer gravely as a consequence of the current tensions and conflicts
underway….We must not resign ourselves to thinking of a Middle East without
Christians, who for 2,000 years have confessed the name of Jesus, and have been
fully integrated as citizens into the social, cultural and religious life of
the nations to which they belong."
Francis, 21 November 2013
Statements from the USCCB
Joint Statement Expressing
Solidarity at the Service of All People in the Middle East
William Lori, Bishop Oscar Cantú,
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, and Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, February 10, 2017
Letter to Representatives Smith and Eshoo Commending the
Introduction of Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act
Cantú and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, January 30, 2017
Statement of the Co-ordination of Bishops' Conferences in
Support of the Church in the Holy Land
Cantú, January 18, 2017
Letter to Congress Regarding Genocide Resolution and
Assistance for Survivors of Genocide
Cantú, September 21, 2016
Francis has repeatedly expressed his care and love for Christians and other
religious minorities who are greatly suffering in the Middle East. In December
2014, he wrote a letter to Christians in
the Middle East
in which he:
Expressed his joy made by their hope and thanked them for
their witness, likening their presence to "leaven to the dough."
Encouraged continuation of ecumenical and interreligious
dialogue, calling for them to be "artisans of peace, reconciliation and
development, to promote dialogue, to build bridges in the spirit of the
beatitudes, and to proclaim the Gospel of peace, in a spirit of ready cooperation
with all national and international authorities"
Urged the international community to address the needs of
minorities "above all by promoting peace through negotiation and diplomacy, for
the sake of stemming and stopping as soon as possible the violence which has
already caused so much harm."
The Church also engages in ecumenical efforts to
protect/preserve/bring awareness to/ the Church in the Middle East. In 2015,
Pope Francis addressed
the Synod of the Chaldean Church and in February 2016, Pope
Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met in Cuba to issue a
joint declaration calling on the international community to act
urgently in the Middle East and noting the shared suffering of Christians in
In December 2016 on the feast of St. Stephen, the first
Christian martyr, Pope Francis reflected on the continued witness and
persecution of the Church, particularly in the Middle East. He stated that
"the martyrs of today are greater in number than those of the first centuries,"
and they exemplify fidelity to the gospel and witness to charity in truth. His
words echo a homily
given in 2014 at a Mass commemorating Roman martyrs under Nero's persecution:
"There are many martyrs
today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East
where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those
Christians who are forced away in an 'elegant' way, with 'white gloves': that
too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today
than there were in the first centuries….Let us think also to our brothers who
are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of
so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us".
In October 2010 the
Synod of Bishops, at the request of Pope Benedict XVI, convened in a Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops in
order to "to confirm and strengthen the members of the Catholic Church in
their Christian identity, through the Word of God and the sacraments," and
"to foster ecclesial communion among the Churches sui
iuris, so that they can bear witness to the Christian life in an
authentic, joyous and winsome manner."
this Special Assembly in October of 2010, the Synod of Bishops utilized
Laboris, the working document based on
responses to the Lineamenta, the initial guidelines set forth by the Holy Father in
preparation for the Synod. Forty-four
propositions were presented and a concluding message was issued on October 24, 2010.
Christians of the Middle East
Who are the Christians of the Middle East?
Who are the Catholics of the Middle East?
the Church engage in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue
Christians of the Middle East Backgrounder
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