- Apr 13, 2021
In Easter messages, two Catholic patriarchs criticized the situation in Lebanon and urged the faithful to cling to the hope of the Resurrection despite the prevailing darkness.
Political leaders had “very nice words” during Pope Francis’s early March trip to Iraq, but now Christians pray “that those words, those declarations, will be applied on the daily level, on the ground,” said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan.
Amid suffering and despair, further darkened by the coronavirus pandemic, Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East urged their faithful at Christmastime to hold on to hope.
More than 100,000 Christians driven out from Iraq’s Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State in the summer of 2014 are living as refugees in Lebanon.
Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the massacre by Islamic militants at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan reminded the faithful that “our martyrs are the torches of faith that illuminate our paths of life and ignite in us the fire of love toward everyone.”
When some 50 bishops and patriarchs from different rites throughout the Mediterranean gather in Bari this month to discuss the dire situation many countries in the region face, the survival of Christians in the Middle East will likely emerge as a central topic.
In a private meeting with Pope Francis, Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East had an opportunity to sound the alarm regarding the survival of Christians in the region as a result of persecution, extremism, economic insecurity and immigration to the West.
Against a backdrop of anti-government protests in Iraq and Lebanon, at Christmas, Catholic patriarchs in the Middle East spoke of continued suffering.