Christianity at stake in Middle East as war in Syria continues

Christianity’s future in the Middle East remains uncertain, and it is critical that the international community remain engaged, a Syrian Melkite Catholic archbishop has said.

Speaking at a visit to the US state of Connecticut, Aleppo’s Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart recalled how persecution has also long been a part of Syrian Catholic history, but that the until recently wealthy city of Aleppo has been left in in “very bad shape” as a result of Syria’s civil war, with its Christian population perhaps reduced to 25% of their prewar numbers.

Expressing his wish that Syria could become “like America… free to be Christian, free to be Muslim, free to choose [our faith]”, he thanked the Knights of Columbus for helping Christians in the Middle East and for “pushing” the US State Department to recognise that ISIS’ crimes against Christians constitute genocide.

The archbishop also focused on hope, saying while “things are bad now” in the future Christians and others “will help to build a [renewed] Church, a new society, and new country”.