Stories On Syria
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) are partnering to respond to the humanitarian needs of the thousands of displaced Syrian families seeking food, shelter, and basic necessities.
The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has reached epic proportions. The IOCC Website explains that since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, "more than 100,000 people have died and over 7 million people have been displaced from their homes—a situation that, according to the UN, is creating refugees at a rate not seen since the Rwandan genocide nearly 20 years ago."
IOCC is one of the few international non-governmental organizations helping the victims of strife from the inside of Syria, and they are ministering to refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan as well. To learn more, contact Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, (443) 823–3489, email@example.com.
Metropolitan Philip Asks for Full Archdiocese Support for Antiochian Day of Solidarity on Sunday Sept. 15
As you may know, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, has designated Sunday September 15th as “Antiochian Day of Solidarity”. His letter can be found here.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip is asking all of our churches and missions in North America to give our full support to this appeal, and to make a special collection on Sunday September 15, 2013 which will benefit the victims in Syria who are suffering so terribly.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Throngs of displaced Syrians crowd before the gates of an Orthodox church in the coastal governorate of Tartous, awaiting their turns to register for humanitarian assistance at one of the four offices IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) have established in the governorate to assist with the influx of people needing aid. IOCC is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of displaced families who have sought the relative safety of Tartous from areas of intense conflict in Homs, Aleppo and Idlib.
IOCC/GOPA volunteers work diligently to register the thousands of weary and homeless Syrian people who gather daily seeking food, shelter and basic household items like bedding and blankets. More than 3,300 displaced families have been registered to receive assistance such as housing support, crisis counseling, and remedial classes at a makeshift school for 500 displaced children. In response to the needs of the growing number of Syrian families arriving to Tartous and other governorates, IOCC is working to expand the assistance it is providing.
In the meantime, the IOCC has also helped resettle families displaced from the historic town of Maaloula. Read about these efforts on IOCC's Website.
From Orthodox Christian Network (OCN):
Join us for an exclusive interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, the primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. His Eminence has issued several statements calling for prayer and action on the current situation in Syria, where millions of Christians are suffering and in grave danger of persecution. Listen now to his thoughts on what will happen to Christians in Syria if the country is bombed, how people can help both the political situation and the millions of refugees, as well as about the Day of Solidarity that has been set for September 15th.
His Eminence Philip (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, sent a message to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which reads, in particular: “We monitor with gratitude your tireless efforts in support of the Christians, and all the God-fearing people of Syria.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expresses his conviction that the forces responsible for stirring up the conflict in the country “have ulterior motives in mind, not the least of which is to expunge the area of Christians who have been living in that land peacefully with Muslims for many years under the secular government…”
The hierarch of the Church of Antioch thanked the Russian Church for carrying out the fund-raising campaign and sending the money collected “to help the needy, homeless and downtrodden people of Syria” who have been suffering from “the uncivil war that continues to rage.”
“Throughout history, Russia has protected the Orthodox of the Middle East in times of need and it seems history is repeating itself once again,” the letter reads. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip expressed his gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for his support in this difficult time and asked him “to remember the victims of this barbarism” in his prayers.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia sent a message to Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, in which he expressed his deep concern over the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria.
The Primate of the Russian Church appeals to the US President to listen to the voices of religious leaders who unanimously oppose any military interference in the Syrian conflict and to make every effort for the soonest commencement of peace negotiations.
His Excellency Mr. Barack OBAMA, President, United States of America
Your Excellency, Dear Mr. President,
The tragic events in Syria have raised anxiety and caused pain in the Russian Orthodox Church. We receive information about the situation there not from the news reports but from living evidence coming to us from religious figures, ordinary believers and our compatriots living in that country.
Syria today has become an arena of the armed conflict. Engaged in it are foreign mercenaries and militants linked with international terrorist centres. The war has become an everyday golgotha for millions of civilians.
We were deeply alarmed to learn about the plans of the US army to strike the territory of Syria.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
September 6, 2013
President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC
Dear Mr. President:
We write to you with a heavy heart having heard the recent news of the attack on the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, Syria by the rebel forces. This city houses one of the oldest and most important monasteries, the Monastery of St. Thekla, which is considered a holy place by both Christians and Muslims.
This attack by the rebel forces, who are supported by the U.S. government, is an unspeakable act of terror, and speaks volumes to the viciousness of those rebel forces who seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Apparently there is nothing that is sacred to these people, and it is very disturbing that these same people are being supported by our government.
Mr. President, we appeal to your humanity, and compassion for people to halt consideration of any U.S military action against the Syrian government. This would be a deadly and costly action, and nothing can be gained by it. If indeed chemical weapons have been used (and this is still to be determined by the UN inspectors who recently returned from Syria), there is no compelling evidence which points to the use of these weapons by the Syrian government. On the contrary, there is some compelling evidence that the rebel forces had both the means and the will to launch such a heinous attack against innocent people, Christians and Muslims alike, who are all the children of God.
May our Lord and God guide you to find a peaceful solution which relies on negotiation and not bombs.
+Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba
Update: Live recordings of this broadcast are now available:
Crisis in Syria, a Special Broadcast of Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen this Sunday, September 8 at 8 PM EST/7 PM CST
Chesterton, IN (September 5, 2013) — In light of the President's call for a “limited” military strike on Syria, Kevin Allen, the host of Ancient Faith Today, will speak live with Middle Eastern experts about the complex crisis in Syria, its main players and their interests, and what effects an American military attack will have on Syria, its struggling Christian population, and the region. The program will stream live on Ancient Faith Radio's Talk station on Sunday, September 8, at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central. Listeners will be able to hear and respond to a different perspective on the crisis in Syria than what is typically heard on the mainstream news.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy and Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese:
Greetings to you and your families as we begin a new ecclesiastical year. I pray you had a pleasant summer. I write to you today as our president and United States Congress contemplate military action against Syria. As those of us with deep roots in that land already know, more bombs and destabilization of the country will only lead to further bloodshed and devastation. In my opinion, based on a lifetime of knowledge in that area of the world, it serves neither the interest of the United States, nor the Syrian people (or the people of the Middle East at large for that matter) to bomb and further destabilize the country. Extremists groups such as Al-Kaeda are waiting in the wings to prey on any weakness in the Syrian government and infrastructure. The results of such a bombing would be yet another step in the extermination of our Christian presence in the Middle East, a presence that dates to the dawn of Christianity. Our Church has already suffered greatly and has new martyrs waiting to be glorified –we do not need any more!
Therefore, I urge all of you during the next few days to contact your respective senators and congress people to urge them to vote NO to any unilateral military action by the United States. Time is of the essence so please distribute this email to everyone you know as quickly as possible and share this message on your Facebook and other mass media sites.
Fr. Nabil Hanna of St. George Church in Indianapolis, Indiana was recently interviewed by local news station WTHR, in which Fr. Hanna shared his perspective as an Antiochian Christian regarding recent events in Syria. Read the full story at WTHR.com. Excerpt:
INDIANAPOLIS - Conflict in Syria has been raging for a couple of years forcing thousands of Syrians to seek refuge in other countries, including the United States and right here in Indianapolis. For them, this isn't an issue of force, but of faith and peace. We talked with a local priest who shares a unique perspective from his Syrian church members.
For several months, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has offered a temporary home to the St. George Orthodox Christian Church family. They're in the process of finishing a new church.
In their own transition, Father Nabil Hanna and his members, some of Syrian decent, are intensely focused on the violence back home.
"It's devastating, the country's wrecked," said Father Nabil.
Father Nabil says several of his members are recent refugees from Syria. The conversations about solutions are many. He's speaks on their behalf because even in the United States some still live in fear of persecution.
"They have a very heavy heart because they leave behind other relatives," said Father Nabil.