Aphrem and Zaour: The Christians in the Middle East
Face an Existential Danger and Can Only Be Saved by
a United Vision and Mutual Acceptance
Unless the Oriental Churches meet and convey on mutual bases to combine efforts against the threatening challenges in the Levant, the remaining Christians of the East will have to face a real existential danger. This inter-Christian meeting, away from a minority condensing mentality, is a necessity because acceptance is a must in order to preserve human dignity and to protect diversity in the East.
This was the conclusion drawn from the official visit of MECC Secretary General Dr. Souraya Bechealany, visited His Beatitude Yousef al Absi, the Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, at the headquarters of the Melkite Patriarchate in Damascus. His Beatitude stressed on the importance of supporting MECC as a bridge and a link where the churches of the East can meet and commune.
However, our Muslim brothers are well convinced that our fellowship is essential to protect the identity of the East. Fatal ethnicities and nationalist tensions are being played and they threaten us more than ever. Yet, we are not simply minorities, and our leading role in this East is witnessed by our history.” “Therefore, it is essential that we come together as churches to meet this challenge. We are honest, resourceful and patriotic and that means they want to apply a divide-and-rule policy to weaken us.”
MECC’s third stop was HH Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, who gave his blessings for the work of the Secretary General and expressed his support to the MECC message in the present situation. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”, he said. “We ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest. Our duty as Member Churches is to support and empower the Council of Churches MECC so that it can fulfill its crucial mission of securing the Christian presence in the region of the Middle East in our days, and then extend to the world.”
Bechealany also met with Rev. Peter Zaour, President of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. Zaour stressed on the need to combine all efforts to support the needy and protect the dignity of violated man due to the consequences of war. She also visited Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and discussed with Him the MECC plans with the theological, ecumenical, and relief projects in the many Middle East offices.
Bechealany also reported to Church leaders the process to relaunch the Association for Theological Institutes in the Middle East -ATIME- as well as the preparations for the Youth Meeting organized in Lebanon and cosponsored by MECC, the Churches in Lebanon, and the Taize community in March 2019. This Meeting will gather some 1600 young man and woman from different Middle East Countries.