ASIA/SYRIA - Syrian Orthodox Patriarch: may Eastern Christians who emigrate to the West keep their identity

Friday, 11 March 2016

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - The culture that the Christians in the Orient were raised into, "is undoubtedly different from the one they find in the West". This difference is observed in the difficulty which the refugees find in integrating in the western societies". Taking this into account, may the eastern baptized driven to emigrate to Western countries, keep their identity as Christians of the East, avoiding that it is eliminated in the impact with the Western culture. These are some eloquent suggestions contained in the Encyclical Letter addressed to the faithful by Patriarch Mar Ignatius Aprhrem II, Primate of the Syrian Orthodox Church, on the occasion of the beginning of Lent.
"We" insists the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch in the text "also need to work on reconciling many aspects of our culture with that of the western society without being affected by western atheism and secularism which may clash with our Christian values".
In the Patriarchal Encyclical sent to Agenzia Fides, Mar Ignatius I Aphrem II examines with acuity the closing mechanisms and populist xenophobic reactions which are prevailing in various Western Countries before the global emergence of migration flows. Officials and political leaders - warns the Patriarch - have started to discuss means of passing laws and constraints to organize and control emigration. They are doing so because emigration has become a tool to put pressure on countries which receive the immigrants. Some refugees are creating problems to the hosting Countries which leads to more ethnic extremism and a growing sense of national fanaticism. Some are politicizing the matter in order to put pressure on Countries, forgetting the human character of this issue and the necessity to deal with the refugees and immigrants as people in need of help, acceptance and attention". In his Encyclical Letter, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch also denounces "maltreatment, discrimination", suffered by the refugees, and also declares of being aware of "cases of persecution based on religious differences within the refugee camps in Europe". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 11/03/2016)