The patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, visited the Conference of European Churches office in Brussels today following an international conference at the European Parliament highlighting the future of Christianity in Iraq.
During his time with the Conference of European Churches, His Holiness discussed matters of concern to the Syriac Orthodox Church. Though its ancient roots are in present-day Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, modern diaspora communities are found throughout the world from the United States, northern and western Europe. There is also large Syriac Orthodox presence in India. Civil war and human rights violations in Syria and Iraq have led to sorrowful circumstances for the church, leaving many people without basic necessities. The patriarch noted that his church alone has witness the destruction of more than 80 of its sites in Syria as a result of recent conflicts. The church of nearly 5 million also faces challenges in preserving traditions as younger generations move and integrate into new societies. He invited people to live the Gospel in difficult times, and rebuild their lives and communities with support from international organizations.
The conference at the European Parliament, “A Future for Christians in Iraq,” brought together parliamentarians, representatives from non-governmental organisations and local tribal councils, as well as religious leaders from Iraq and Syria. Over three days, they discussed the potential for rebuilding the Nineveh Plain, a region where Christians and other religious minorities have experienced particularly violent and destructive persecution. from the enemies of humanity. Though Christianity is present throughout Iraq, it was especially strong in this region until a few years ago when the so-called Islamic State swept through the region leaving much of it in ruins.
The Conference of European Churches expresses its solidarity with His Holiness, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and all Christians and people of faith experiencing persecution in the Middle East, and remains committed to helping them achieve justice and peace.