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CHRISTIANS WILL BE MASSACRED: If Syrian army leaves Aleppo, faithful will be killed, Chaldean Catholic leader warns

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The United States ostensibly backs the rebel factions in war-torn Syria, but as one Christian leader that has ministered to the faithful in the Middle East warns, government forces are the ones protecting the Christian minority there. "The Syrian Army is protecting the Christian community [in Aleppo]," Reverend Raymond Moussalli says. "But if [the Army] leaves, they will be massacred."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Moussalli, roughly 200,000 Christians still reside in the war-torn streets of Aleppo. He warns that if the Syrian Army retreats due to attacks by Islamist rebels, the Christians "will be massacred."

Moussalli is the patriarchal vicar of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Jordan, which borders Syria on the south. He has spent many years attending to the spiritual needs to Christians who have fled from Iraq (along the western border) into Amman, Jordan.

Father Moussalli was among more than 50 regional Christian leaders who joined with Muslim scholars, who met at a conference in Amman against Western military intervention into the region.

Not surprisingly, very few - if any of the scholars gathered there saw much use in military intervention. Father Moussalli harshly criticized the West for supporting the Islamist rebels in Syria. "If we [the West] are bombing Syria now, where are all the Christians going? There are two million," he told the BBC.

Currently, there are about 2.5 million Christians in all of Syria, and an estimated 220,000 in Aleppo, of which about 10 percent have fled because of the rebel attacks, Moussalli says.

Ignatius Joseph Younan, patriarch of Antioch for the Syrian Catholic Church, added at the conference that "We stress that we reject foreign interference in Syria."

Overall, there was high condemnation for the war drums being pounded upon by the West against Syria - and elsewhere. "We don't accept any intervention by foreign powers . to protect minorities," Pope Anba Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, in Egypt said. "It [intervention] is basically a pretext . to advance their countries' interest in the Middle East."

There are an estimated 500,000 members of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the Middle East, which is in complete unity with the Holy See in Rome under the leadership of Pope Francis. The Chaldean Catholic Church traces its origins back to Thomas the Apostle and its liturgical languages are Syriac and Aramaic, the latter the language that Jesus Christ Himself primarily spoke.

Of the estimated 2.5 million Christians in Syria, most are Eastern Orthodox followed by Eastern Catholics, which includes the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

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