In a March 29 discussion on Russian TV with a government official, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk decried the attacks against Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, describing these attacks as a genocidal campaign that until recently in international forums and mass media have been “hushed up as if non-existent; it was simply ignored.” The director of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church said in the interview that “now we have found ourselves in a situation when the whole Middle East is affected by this blight of terrorism, when the fire of civil war and inter-ethnic confrontation is blazing, when Christians are methodically eliminated, that is, when the genocide of Christians is raging. Let us call things by their proper names.” The Russian bishop said he was grateful that the West has at last paid attention to the plight of Christians but asked: ” .. is it not late?” More from the interview:
Only after the ISIS militants began terrible mass executions of Christians the world community began speaking about this problem out loud. It happened only after the number of Christians in Iraq decreased by times and almost no Christians remained in Lybia and after the Christian community in Egypt had a hard time. The world community has at last begun speaking out against the background of general instability and uncertainty, against the background of the Arab Spring developments, against the background of what is going on now in Syria, where militants in the occupied territories are systematically eliminating Christians and Christian shrines.
The question arises inevitably here: why the so-called Christian West, at least in the eyes of many Muslims, supports these destructive forces and the so-called opposition in Syria? Why did the West support and actually initiate the overthrow of the regime in Iraq? Yes, we understand that the regime that existed in Iraq could be viewed differently and could hardly be regarded as model. But when a regime that somehow or other keeps the whole country from a disaster is overthrown an utter chaos comes in and a civil war begins, for the overthrow of a dictatorship does not at all mean that it will be surely replaced by a democracy. And those who did it now wash their hands saying: We have nothing to do with this; we have done our work; now let them themselves sort it all out. And how they can sort it all out on their own when the whole infrastructure of the country, political and economic, is destroyed and the interreligious and inter-ethnic balances, which existed for centuries, are violated?
Read “There is the genocide of Christians in the Middle East” on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Hilarion is chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations and permanent member of the Holy Synod with the title of Bishop of Volokolamsk, Vicar to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
See “Christianity under Siege: Building a Common Front in Defense of the Faith,” an interview with Metropolitan Hilarion in the Fall 2012 issue of Acton’s Religion & Liberty.