On March 6, 2019, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation from SOS Chretiens d’Orient and a group of tourists from different western countries, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma – Damascus.
In his word, as well as in answering the various questions of the delegation, His Holiness welcomed his guests and hoped they enjoy their stay in the country and get know the reality of the Syrian crisis. He stressed that what happened during the last eight years had nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people; rather, it was only for the profit of agendas and power struggles.
His Holiness hoped that the war is behind Syrians now. He assured that Syria needs a a strong government which gives the rights to all citizens and protects them equally. The New Syria, His Holiness emphasized, needs to ensure equal citizenship and respect to the religious and cultural diversity present in the society.
He also remarked that Christians have been weakened a lot in Syria, but before in Iran, Turkey, and Iraq. His Holiness noted the importance of Christians’ presence in the Middle East for all the components of the societies, for Christians are always peacemakers. This, His Holiness added, made the Church strengthen her institutions, and this is why the Patriarchate is executing projects in order to provide job opportunities, not only for Christians, but for all the components, for the Church always promotes good relations, and because this is an investment in the future of Christians in the Middle East, which is only possible through co-existence. He also spoke about Antioch Syrian University and its role in this regard.
His Holiness added that the abduction of the two archbishops of Aleppo Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, as well as other priests and Christian figures, aimed at targeting the Christian presence. This was also revealed through terrorist attacks against several Christians villages and regions.