By Michael W. Chapman
Rev. Raymond Moussalli, the patriarchal vicar of the Chaldean Catholic Church. (AP)
(CNSNews.com) – About 200,000 Christians still reside in the battle-weary city of Aleppo, Syria, but if the Syrian Army retreats in the face of ongoing attacks by Islamist rebels, the Christians “will be massacred,” said Rev. Raymond Moussalli, the patriarchal vicar of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Jordan, which borders Syria on the south.
Rev. Moussalli has spent many years ministering to Christians who have fled from Iraq (along the western border) into Amman, Jordan – Aleppo, Syria is about 320 miles north of Amman. Last week, Father Raymond was among 50-plus regional Christian leaders, and Muslim scholars, who spoke at a conference in Amman against Western military intervention into the region.
“The Syrian Army is protecting the Christian community [in Aleppo],” said Rev. Moussalli, as reported by BBC Monitoring Middle East. “But if [the Army] leaves, they will be massacred.”
There are about 2.5 million Christians in all of Syiria, and an estimated 220,000 in Aleppo, of which about 10% have fled because of the rebel attacks, said Rev. Moussalli.
Father Raymond Moussalli also criticized the West for supporting the Islamist rebels in Syria, reported the BBC, adding that, “If we [the West] are bombing Syria now, where are all the Christians going? There are 2 million.”
Other speakers at the conference included Ignatius Joseph Younan, patriarch of Antioch for the Syrian Catholic Church, who said, “We stress that we reject foreign interference in Syria.”
Also, Pope Anba Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, in Egypt, said in a statement: “We don’t accept any intervention by foreign powers … to protect minorities. 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. The church is in complete unity with the Holy See in Rome and 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.
For 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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