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Friday, 9 May 2014

Christians From Syria Speak With One Voice: Historic Conference in Geneva On 8 May 2014

On 8 May 2014, an historic conference took place in Geneva, Switzerland, where seven senior religious and secular leaders from Syria’s largest Christian churches spoke in a unified voice on the situation in their homeland, which is the cradle of civilization and Christianity. In addition, significant meetings at the United Nations were scheduled for Friday.

The conference, titled “Christians in Syria: The Challenge of Speaking with One Voice,” began at 8 pm at the Espace Fusterie (18, Place de la Fusterie) in Geneva and was open to the public.

The unique event offers a platform to Syria’s indigenous Christian population, whose pleas continue to fall on deaf ears in the West. In Geneva, therefore, their leaders will join forces and sound the alarm on the enduring plight and mass emigration of their threatened members from Syria and the Middle East. The prominent community leaders, speaking on behalf of Syria’s largest churches, represented the Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Greek Catholic (Melkite) and Roman Catholic churches.

The delegation from Syria were received and supported by leaders from the local sister churches, including H.E. Silvano Tomasi (Apostolic Delegate and Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the United Nations), H.E. Anba Loukas (Bishop of the Coptic Diocese of French-speaking Switzerland and South France) and Bishops from the Russian and Armenian Orthodox churches. Acknowledging its significance, the local media have already expressed much interest in the historic conference.

Mr. Johny Messo, President of the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs), a UN accredited NGO, stated: “It is a great honor to co-organize this momentous event. Despite our minor theological differences, we are all united in our faith in Christ and in our determination to survive in the Middle East. As Aramean Christians, we have experienced mass exoduses before in Turkey and Iraq. We were unable to anticipate on a similar experience in Syria. Yet, we sincerely believe that if we will be able to organize Syria’s Christian body and mobilize our fellow believers, in the East as well as in the West, we will exert far more influence on the warring parties and their supporters.”

Mr. Messo further remarks: “We will start in Geneva, but we will continue our peace mission in Brussels, Strasbourg, New York, Washington, Moscow and other key cities. Once we are able to unite Syria’s native Christians, we envisage extending our hand of peace to the other components of Syria’s severely damaged religious and cultural mosaic. Hence we call upon international bodies, governments, NGOs and the media to reach out to us in order to empower us and our critical voice.”

On Friday, during a closed session, Syria’s Christian leaders assembled to work on a joint strategy paper aiming to contribute more vociferously and effectively to peace and stability in their homeland. Afterwards, the high-level delegation met at Palais Wilson with the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief regarding the two abducted Archbishops from Aleppo and with representatives on behalf of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

The organizers of the conference are the Extraordinary Prayer of all Churches for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace (“EPCRUP”), the Centre Catholique d’Études de Genève and the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs).

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Christians From Syria Speak With One Voice: Historic Conference in Geneva On 8 May 2014

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