Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill: protect Mideast Christians!
The Russian Orthodox Church has warned that rising violence against Christian minorities in the Middle East could force them out of the region and urged international cooperation to protect them and their rights. Patriarch Kirill told a Moscow conference the region’s Christians had become “hostages of big politics” and the prospect of them being completely driven from the region was “quite realistic”, Interfax news agency reported on Friday.
“One of the most symbolic tendencies of our time is the mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa, caused by an unprecedented increase in violence against religious minorities in the region,” he said.
Kirill called for “a viable mechanism to protect the rights of Christians and Christian communities” with the cooperation of the United Nations and representatives of the region’s faiths.
The rise of radical Islamist attacks on Christians, first in Iraq and now in Egypt after dictators there were overthrown, has alarmed religious minorities across the Middle East and prompted support efforts from Christian churches abroad.
The Russian Church, the largest in Orthodox Christianity, has become increasingly active in world religious issues and its bishops took up the defence of Middle Eastern Christians in a statement in May on growing cases of “Christianophobia”. Christians make up about 5 percent of the Middle Eastern population, down from 20 percent a century ago because of a continuing exodus from the region. A large majority of them belong to local Orthodox churches.