Top Russian Cleric Spotlights Ordeal of Christian Minority in Middle East

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© Sputnik/ Valery Melnikov
Middle East
In a meeting with US Vice President on Thursday, Russian Metropolitan Hilarion discussed the hardships of Christians in the Middle East, stressing that Russia is the only party thaey can rely on as of now.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Russia’s military action in Syria has helped save lives, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations department told Sputnik on Thursday.

“This is what we keep hearing from Syrian Christians,” Metropolitan Hilarion said during his trip to Washington, D.C. where he attended the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.

The Russian cleric said the Moscow Patriarchate has been visited by both Christian and Muslim religious leaders from Syria, where Russia has been fighting Islamist militants since September 2015.

“They all say that aid from Russia is the only help they get and their pin their hopes on Russia alone, and that they don’t expect any other regime in Syria than the current one to preserve the interfaith balance that has existed there for centuries,” Hilarion said.

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He said he had come to Washington to raise awareness of the ordeal of the Christian minority in the Middle East, which Hilarion said was “hushed up” by Western media and politicians.

“We want to make the most of events like this summit to draw international attention to the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East. The Russian Orthodox Church uses every opportunity to voice our deepest concerns,” he said.

Hilarion said just a fraction of the former Christian community is still living in Iraq, while Libya’s Christian population has almost vanished. In Syria, the Russian Church has handed out relief aid worth over $1 million with the help from the Russian Emergency Ministry.