More and more Christians are leaving the Middle East. This exodus is affecting not only Syria and Iraq, but also Lebanon. In the quite recent past, this country was the only country of the Middle East with a Christian majority in the population, but now Christians are an ever shrinking minority. Already during the civil war, from 1975 to 1990, some 700,000 Christians left the country, and this trend continues today. Christians now represent just 34% of the total population, and among young people under 25, only a quarter.
The mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East is frequently described as a ‘tsunami’. In August 2015, Patriarch Gregorios III, who was then still head of the Melkite Catholic Church, wrote an open letter to young people in which he said, “The general wave of emigration among young people, especially in Syria, but also in Lebanon and Iraq, breaks my heart, wounds me deeply and feels like a death blow to me. What future can the Church have in the face of such a tsunami of emigration? What will become of our homeland? What will happen to our parishes and Church facilities?”
In response to this crisis, in the 40 parishes belonging to the Archdiocese of Zaleh, the Melkite Catholic Church is pursuing an intensive youth apostolate. It is clear that the more firmly young people are rooted in their faith and in the life of the Church, the less likely they are to abandon their homeland. Weekly meetings and larger monthly events are helping these young people to grow in their faith, and every young person joining the groups is given a copy of the Holy Scriptures by the priests in charge.
We have promised $28,700 to cover the cost of an additional 5,000 Bibles.
Will you help support this youth apostolate in Lebanon and its efforts to stop the exodus of Christians from the Middle East?
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.