Syrian Orthodox Christians Count on Russian Help in Rebuilding Shrines – Greek Church
Orthodox Christians in Syria count on Russian support in rebuilding churches and monasteries that have been destroyed by terrorists during years of war in the country, Archimandrite Alexi Chehadeh, director-general of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East (GOPA), told Sputnik
BRUSSELS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 13th March, 2019) Orthodox Christians in Syria count on Russian support in rebuilding churches and monasteries that have been destroyed by terrorists during years of war in the country, Archimandrite Alexi Chehadeh, director-general of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East (GOPA), told Sputnik.
“We are grateful to the Orthodox church of Russia and to the Russian government, as they promised us to support us in rehabilitating and reconstructing our churches, monasteries and schools. I hope this will come soon,” Chehadeh said.
The war in Syria affected all parts of Syrian society, Christian and Muslim, he recalled.
“We have mosques that are destroyed, and we have Christian churches that are same destroyed by ISIS [Islamic State terrorist group banned in Russia] and Nusra Front [terrorist group banned in Russia] and other militant Islamist groups in Syria. They are fully destroyed in many places,” the priest said.
Father Alexi recalled that the DERD had already been cooperating with the Russian Orthodox Church in Syria.
“We had many delegations who came to Syria in the past few years to check on the churches and monasteries, for example one of the monasteries they visited was in Maaloula, a very historical town in rural Damascus. We hope that we will continue this work together, and the Russian Church and the Russian government will put their efforts together in order to support us reconstructing our churches and monasteries,” he said.
In 2014, the Syrian town of Maaloula, located in the province of Damascus, spent several months under the control of Nusra Front terrorist group (banned in Russia). The Takla monastery in the town was also under attack, some of the inhabitants were taken hostage. The city returned under government control in April 2014. The monastery has since been repaired by Syrian and Russian specialists.
The support from Russia is especially important, since global humanitarian organizations do not see reconstruction of Christian shrines as a priority, Chehadeh noted.
“In general, the cases of monasteries and churches are special cases for humanitarian assistance, and in general when you get money from various humanitarian organizations worldwide, they do not consider the reconstruction of churches and monasteries. That’s why we are very glad to have the Russian Church on our side and the Russian government supporting us and pushing to have those churches reconstructed,” he said.
Syria has been engulfed in an armed conflict since 2011. At the moment, the Syrian government forces continue military operations in several areas of the country to clear them from terrorists. The political resolution, rebuilding of the country and return of the refugees have come to the forefront in Syria.