By Marcela Szymanski
Briefing for our Donors
HIS BEATITUDE Ignatius Younan III, Patriarch of the Syriac-Catholic Church worldwide, on Nov. 27, 2017 in Brussels, addressed a group of 30 representatives of European NGOs with an update ono the situation of Christians in Syria and Iraq after the defeat of ISIS.
Having closely followed the policy of the European Union toward Syria, he expressed hope to soon see an end to the sanctions, measurs, he said, that are causing grave suffering for Syrian Christians. The faithful, he said, completely depend on Catholic charitable organizations for their every need.
In the meeting co-hosted by Aid to the Church in Need and the Commission of European Bishops’ Conferences (COMECE), Patriarch Younan asked the participants to help his people “to be free of paternalism, pandering and profiteering.“ He charged that his flock has been victimized for a long time by external forces.
“We have been a loyal community serving the country where we were born, fully endowed citizens. We are the indigenous population,“ the Patriarch said. He added: “because we do not have our own militias or territorial ambitions, everyone thinks we agree with everything or we are easy to overrun. For us it is a matter of survival. If it were not for the Church organizations such as Aid to the Church in Need, we would be about to disappear.“
Patriarch Younan was accompanied by Archbishop Antoine Chahda of Aleppo, who described the current situation in his city: “No more missiles, and it is quiet, but that does not mean the war is over. I mean that the signs of the destruction of the entire life of Aleppo are visible and painful, such as the empty factories where the rebels and their supporters stole all the machinery. We need the industrial leaders to come back and produce, to ensure a solid base to the reconstruction.“
Both Church leaders insisted on an end to the economic sanctions on Syria, calling on the NGOs present to remind European politicians that thousands of orphans and widows suffer the brunt of the EU Syria policies.