Catholicosate of Cilicia
Antelias - Lebanon
On Wednesday 27 August, the Heads of Middle East Churches met at the Maronite Patriarchate in Bkerke (Lebanon). His Holiness Aram I joined the meeting, accompanied by Bishop Shahé Panossian and Rt. Rev. Housig Mardirossian, the ecumenical officer.
The participants met to further consider items they had discussed at the recent visit of the Patriarchs to Iraq and to prepare a public statement on the situation. After sharing their impressions on the plight of Christian refugees, the Patriarchs agreed to highlight the following points: Christians belong in the region and they will stay and defend their rights; the strategy and actions of the extremists do not reflect the teachings and values of Islam; Christians will join hands with moderate Muslims of the region; and the international community should assist local Christians in combatting conservative Islam.
At the end of their meeting, the Patriarchs received and shared their concerns with the UN representative in Lebanon and the ambassadors of the five UN Security Council member countries, the U.S.A, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France and the representative of the Holy See. His Holiness Aram I warned the ambassadors that extremist Islam is not only a menace to Christians, but also to Islam and the whole world, and urged them to adopt a holistic strategy that would include political and economic issues along with the humanitarian aid and military considerations.
After thanking the patriarchs for the invitation and for sharing their thoughts with them, the ambassadors promised to take the matter to their respective governments.