Armenian, Greek, Catholic and Syriac church leaders are asking for President Donald Trump’s support in protecting the religious freedoms of oppressed Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
The Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Dionysius John Kawak of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese for the Eastern U.S., and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York signed the letter dated November 16, 2018.
The religious leaders are pleading for support in the “upholding of religious freedom and the preservation of pluralism and diversity” in a region marred by violent extremism and political instability. Millions of Christians have been fleeing the Middle East. The signatories decried the ongoing “genocide and forced migration of millions … on the grounds of their religious and/or ethnic identities.”
In addition to brutality against individual human beings, the letter describes that “churches are being desecrated and destroyed.”
“The continuing persecution has resulted in the sharp decline of Christian presence from 20 percent in the 20th century to a mere four percent today. In Lebanon, Syria, The West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Egypt, the Nineveh region, and other more remote places in the Middle East, Christian communities flourished with strong historical and religious roots.”
Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Demetrios, Archbishop Kawak, and Fr. Finidkyan asked President Trump to address the violence and extremism that lie at the root of Christian persecution, while affirming that the problem does not call for “a battle against Islam.”
Instead, there was a call for increased assistance to the resulting refugees fleeing persecution, in concert with international diplomatic approaches to conflict resolution.
The letter ended with a prayer “for lasting, sustainable peace in the Middle East that will promote pluralism, diversity, and religious freedom for all.”