„In the face of this dark and bloody image of our beloved country, Syria, I turn to the nations of the whole world and beseech them: Have pity on Syria! Leave Syria to Syrians! That’s enough of your weapons, your fighters, your mercenaries, your armed adventurers, your jihadis, your takfiris!”
Paschal Letter 2014
Of His Beatitude Gregorios III,
(Melkite) Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
Extract: Appeal to the world
At the start of the fourth year of the bloody, tragic Syrian crisis, I am launching this appeal from the suffering, praying Church of Damascus, which fasted during holy Lent and continues its way of the cross with all citizens of this beloved country, the cradle of Christianity, religions and civilisations.
At this great feast of the Resurrection, in love and hope we again make a heartfelt, powerful, pressing plea.
On the basis of our Christian faith and spiritual mission and role as pastor and Patriarch, we turn to everyone: the President of our country and his colleagues, all Arab countries, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, countries of the European Union, all nations of the world, pacifists, Nobel Peace Prize-winners, all men and women of good will, the pure-hearted, leaders of social media, people of letters, thinkers, captains of industry and commerce, arms merchants… and call upon you all to expend every possible effort for peace in Syria. The Syrian tragedy has exceeded every measure and limit! It has adversely affected nearly every Syrian citizen. We ask God to hear this appeal. May he guide your hearts to heed this appeal from him and from us.
Death reigns in Syria! We cannot continue the death march! We must summon up our efforts, at home and abroad, government, opposition, all parties, and persons of good will, to staunch the flow of Syrian blood and walk towards resurrection! We are all sons and daughters of Syria, to whom God has given the light of life. We are called to life, not death. As a Syrian citizen and Syrian patriarch, I beseech every Syrian to walk, with his fellow-citizens, on the road of resurrection and life, that they all might have life and that they might have it more abundantly (cf. John 10, 10). No more war! No more violence! No more massacres!
We all ought to try to bring about a truce for life. We have to reject the logic of war and power as a selfish, murderous rationale!
I am launching this appeal to the whole world, in the name of the poor, weak, widows, victims, mortally wounded, mutilated, disfigured, displaced persons, refugees, homeless, hungry, children, the elderly, pregnant women, handicapped, all those in despair, pain and discouragement, such as I often encounter at the Syrian-Lebanese border when travelling from Beirut to Damascus, or during my visits to families of victims and disaster-stricken people. They are burdened by fear about the future and the fate of their families, children and young people.
In the face of this dark and bloody image of our beloved country, Syria, I turn to the nations of the whole world and beseech them: Have pity on Syria! Leave Syria to Syrians! That’s enough of your weapons, your fighters, your mercenaries, your armed adventurers, your jihadis, your takfiris!
O Syria, resurrection is yours
Syria is the land of the Resurrection. At the gates of Damascus, Paul of Tarsus saw Christ risen from the dead. He came to Damascus as a persecutor. He left it as an apostle and preacher of the Resurrection. That is why Syria is the land of the Resurrection. As we said: the title of its children is “Children of the Resurrection.”
Today, we are speaking to our fellow-citizens, Syria’s sons and daughters, giving them this splendid historic appellation, O sons and daughters of Syria! You are the children of the Resurrection, children of life. You are neither children of death, nor instruments of death. You are not children of violence, terror, torture and massacres. Be for ever children of the Resurrection and life!
Let those who seek to destroy our love, our living together, by killing and causing bloodshed in our land, and sowing ideas of takfirism, hatred, enmity, division and sedition leave the pure earth of Syria ! They are just agents of death!
We tell Syria what Jesus said in a certain synagogue, when he healed the woman bent double: “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” (Luke 13: 12)
We tell Syria: you have a resurrection! You have a resurrection, my fellow-Christian! You have a resurrection, Muslim fellow-citizen! You have a resurrection, who lie hidden under the sod! You have a resurrection, my brother in arms!
Read the full letter here