LOOK AT THE EAST
This was an appeal ending the pronouncement in the European Parliament in Strasburg given by archbishop of Bagdad Jean Benjamin Sleiman (a Discalced Carmelite). He was one of three special guests invited to the seminary entitled ‘2000 years of Christianity in Near East. Their suffering. Their future’. – Migrations, which are supported by the West are not a solution – said our guest. In his opinion, the policy of the West, including the EU, towards the Christians in Near East was and is wrong. During a few dozen years the number of the Christians in that region has fallen from about 20 to below 5 percent. Is it the end of Church in Near East? – the guests were wondering. That depressing data was given also by another invited guest, a director of ‘Open Doors’ in France Michael Wharton. The persecution of the Copts was presented by Anba Damian, a bishop of the Orthodox Coptic Church of Northern Germany. How to help the Christians in Near East was also the issue of discussion among not only the panelists, but also a lot of MPs for European Parliament and guests present.
The most particular scenario was outlined by the aforementioned archbishop of Bagdad, who lives in this region. He was right to say that the first step should be restoring statehood in Near East; in the countries such as Iraq where there is no state, its structures, where there are unlawfulness and violence. It was unpleasant to hear how our Christian brothers are forced to convert to Islam; those who do not want to do it, are deprived of their wives, and they and their children are murdered. It does not happen in a chaotic way – those who were released from prisons, have created organized groups. The conclusion was that the West must change its policy towards Near East. – Do not be afraid – said archbishop Seiman – you will have both oil and gas, and silk, but it is necessary to do it differently, so that the Christians would not suffer.
The meeting was moving and educating. Some of the present politicians noticed that a positive signal of possible changes was the fact that the conference had been organized by three euro-deputies of various nationalities and from various political groups – from Germany, Austria and Poland. This is a kind of an alliance over political divisions. As a co-organizer of the meeting I had an occasion to speak and summarize it briefly. So, I recalled that the European Union had been created by the Christian Democrats which obliges it not only to expose its Christian roots but also to guard Christian values and the Christians both on the continent and all over the world. In reference to the appeal that Europe should wake up from lethargy, I expressed my hope that our meeting might have been its first presage, and, undoubtedly, it proves that a lot of us do not agree to persecution of Christians in Near East. Shortly speaking – we are looking at the East.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 12/2018 (25 III 2018)