- Feb 23, 2020
Full of zeal for their faith, 920 Melkite Catholic young adults from the Middle East gathered in Lebanon for the first conference especially for them.
Aside from humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees and concrete efforts to help them return to their homeland, the international community should work toward eradicating the roots of wars and violence, an archbishop from Lebanon told members of a political party holding the largest number of seats in the European Parliament.
Pope Francis said Mass on Tuesday along with Patriarch Youssef Absi of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Syria, saying they were offering the Mass for “persecuted Christians of the Middle East.”
In many ways, Lebanon is unique in the Middle East. Christians are a robust 35 to 40 percent of the population, and the country has long had a tradition of power-sharing to make co-existence possible. The country is also, however, surrounded by chaos, and right now the strain of a very large refugee population is pushing both the government and the Church’s resources to the breaking point, which could unleash consequences no one can foresee.
Talking to Syrian Christian refugees in Lebanon, it’s obvious that life is hardly a walk in the park. However, to a person they also say that it would be infinitely worse without the assistance of the local Church. The Greek Melkite Archdiocese of Zahle, for instance, is spending roughly $2 million per year to provide housing, food, medication, schooling, and other basic necessities, as Lebanon copes with the world’s largest per capita refugee crisis.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church, based in Syria and Lebanon and consisting of some 1.5 million members, elected its new patriarch Archbishop Youssef Absi. In a letter sent the day after his election, Pope Francis congratulated the new patriarch, noting the “delicate situation” for Christians in the Middle East.