Wisdom: The Bishops of Antioch Speak on Syrian Refugees

Wisdom: The Bishops of Antioch Speak on Syrian Refugees November 21, 2015

Here is the official statement:

Statement from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on the Reception of Refugees in the United States in Light of Recent Terrorist Actions around the World

Since the tragic terrorist actions in Paris, Beirut, Mali and elsewhere in the past two weeks, there have been polarized reactions to the reception of refugees, mainly of Syrian nationality, worldwide: an understandable reaction of concern on the one hand, but a sad overreaction of fear on the other. We are all concerned first and foremost for the safety of the citizens of the United States which must be continually addressed and assessed. At the same time, the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country. Misguided U.S. foreign policy helped create the so-called “Arab Spring” which has been a “tornado” that has destroyed Arab countries, leaving power vacuums that have fostered the soaring, vicious activity of terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Nusra, and others in the Middle East and around the world. All of this has resulted in an unprecedented number of deaths of innocent people and lack of basic services like healthcare and sanitation, healthy food and drinking water, safe and dignified housing, and so forth.

We must us not be guided by fear or bigotry, but rather let us work to heal the wounds of the injured, clothing the naked and feeding the poor as our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ has taught us (Matthew 25:35-36).


My thoughts:

Save the Church of Antioch.
Save the Church of Antioch.

These spiritual fathers know Syria and the Middle East in ways that our State Department does not. They are leaders of a Church that has been in Syria since the time of the Apostles and are under the Patriarchate of Antioch centered in the ancient city of Damascus.

As one of the faithful I support this statement.

There are three things that came to my attention as I humbly listened to these wise leaders.

First, concern is a legitimate reaction, but fear is not a Christian response to concern. We are called to be a people of love and love and fear cannot exist together.

The people of Syria are not the enemy. They are children of God  and heirs of a great and ancient civilization being destroyed by terrorists.

Second, the bishops rightly put some of the blame for the Syrian crisis on the disastrous American policy during “Arab Spring.” We decided nothing could be worse than the status quo the President inherited and the Christians of the Middle East have paid a huge part of the price.

Finally, we are called to heal wounds, clothe the naked, and feed the poor. Christians have a mandate to care for refugees with dignity. These spiritual fathers do not answer the political question about how best to help the refugees. I know this: those of us who have benefited from the rich heritage of Antioch and Syria pray that the rich culture survives an apocalypse unprecedented in the very long history of the region. My own position remains that for now the solution to the problem is in Syria and not in the expensive token solution of bringing a few Syrians to the United States.

Christians are dying from weapons we provided. The “great powers” have no interest to date in a free and strong multicultural Syria surviving. Too often Syrians, like other people in the Middle East, are used as a worker underclass for European nations that have failed to produce a next generation.

The amount of death, religious “cleansing,” and destruction is without precedent, a remarkable statement in a region that is a cradle of human history. Whatever our views of how to help, we must help. We can do that by contributing to a group that I know can be trusted to get aid to the Syrian Church and all the people of Syria: the IOCC.


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