Brief van de Syrisch-Orthodoxe aartsbisschop van Homs en Hama
The Most Revd Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh
Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama
Amersfoort, 4 December 2013
On behalf of the Council of Churches in the Netherlands, greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
On 13 November, during our plenary meeting of the Council of Churches of the Netherlands, Father Samoil Dogan, a Council delegate of the Syriac Orthodox Church, read out your letter recounting the atrocities recently committed in the village of Sadad.
All present were so taken aback by what we heard that the Council literally fell silent for some time, out of respect for those who died, and in silent prayer for the survivors. However painful it was to be confronted with details of this tragedy, we nonetheless thank you for sharing your experience with us. It brought home the intensity of your people’s suffering. And when one member of Christ’s body suffers, we all share in the pain (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Please know that the persecution you and all our brothers and sisters in Christ face in Syria is not lost on us. Though we are far from you, we remain one in the Spirit of Christ.
With horror, we, too, observe the immense human tragedy that the civil war has wrought, with more than 100,000 lives lost and the displacement of 6.5 million people. With deep pain, we, too, note the particular price that Christians have paid, in destruction of lives, communities, church buildings and cultural heritage, in places like Sadad, Qusair, and Ma ’aloula. We continue to pray for the safety and eventual release of Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, abducted many months ago. With growing frustration, we, too, await action by nations and international powers to end the bloodshed and devastation.
Please be assured, though, of our unremitting prayer for your people’s safety and freedom, and for peace in your country and the region. In the season of Advent, we as a Council are calling upon all Christians and their churches here in the Netherlands to hold Syria, and particularly our Christian brothers and sisters there, in prayer.
Please know, too, that the Council of Churches of the Netherlands will continue to press the Dutch government to exert its international influence peacefully to end the violence in Syria and to be more generous and robust in providing aid to innocent victims of and refugees from the war, especially Syrian Christians.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep you and your people in the knowledge and love of Christ, and may God bless, guide, protect and preserve you, that you may meet the present challenges with deep faith and unwavering hope.
Yours in Christ,
On behalf of the Council of Churches in the Netherlands,
Drs. H.J. van Hout,