Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate – April 2016
On April 19, 2016, a delegation of French Parliamentarians which included Deputies and Senators, as well as Members of the European Parliament and Presidents of Associations and NGOs, accompanied by the President of the French Association for the Christians of the Orient (Chredo), visited His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma, Damascus. The delgation is going to meet the Heads of Churches in Syria and had already visited Maaloula and Saydnaya as well as other regions in Syria.
His Holiness welcomed the members of the delegation and thanked them for their visit to Syria adding that their physical presence among the Syrians reflects their love and support of the Syrian people during the crisis.
His Holiness discussed with his guests the recent developments in the situation in Syria. The parliamentarians expressed their interest in what is going on in Syria and their readiness to offer the necessary help to the Syrian people to assist them in their crisis and to put an end to it.
The Parliamentarians informed His Holiness that they submitted a complaint against ISIS at the International Human Rights Commission and another complaint against the French fighters who were fighting alongside the terrorists in Syria. They highlighted the fact that they are continuing their international political advocacy for restoring peace in Syria and putting an end to the crisis.
His Holiness pointed out that the Christians and the Syrian people are suffering together and that they reject terrorism. They are still attached to their country. He referred to the Genocide that took place a hundred years ago, pointing out that Christians have been victims of atrocities and massacres many times in history. His Holiness also told his guests that Syria is still a model for Christians and Muslims living together and enjoying freedom of religion and freedom of confession.
He stated that emigration rate is very high and affirmed that the solution to the crisis in Syria comes from a peaceful resolution that would stop the conflict and fighting.
His Holiness informed the Parliamentarians that the Syrian people hold high hopes and the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate is support development projects and initiatives that help the youth stay in their country.
On the occasion of the third year on the abduction of the Archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, His Holiness asked the Parliamentarians to work seriously on the return of the abducted Archbishops and denounced the lack of international support in this cause.
At the end of their visit, His Holiness thanked the members of the delegation and wished that they depict the true picture of what they observed in Syria during their visit, especially the love of life of the Syrian people and their attachment to their country and land.
The meeting was attended by His Eminence Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, Very Rev. Raban Roger-Youssef Akhrass, Director of the Syriac Studies Department and Very Rev. Raban Cyril Babi.