At Notre Dame de Paris, a few choice words from the Bishop of Aleppo

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MSR Jean-Clement Jeanbart: “I cannot accept seeing our two thousand year old Church disappear. I would rather die than live to see it.”

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Charlotte D’ORNELLAS
In Boulevard Voltaire, January 29, 2016

Translated from French by Tom Winter, February 25, 2016

Visiting France on the occasion of the Night of Witnesses organized each year by Aid to the Church in Need, the Greek Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, Mgr Jeanbart, had a heavy heart. After describing the dramatic situation facing Aleppans, the Syrian bishop addressed the audience of journalists there:

 “The European media have continued to choke the lives of those suffering in Syria and have even helped to justify what is happening in our country by passing on reports without ever checking,” he began, lambasting press agencies including agencies created during the war “put up by the armed opposition,” like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that uncontradicted source for Western media.

“You have to understand that between the Islamic State and the Syrian government, our choice is quickly made. One can condemn the regime for some things, but you never tried to be objective,” he further accused.

Asked whether he could explain his position to the French authorities, Archbishop Jeanbart said he had tried before, only to be told that he had to be “less critical.”

For him, however, the West has continued to silence the exactions of the armed opposition, all the while damning the Syrian government and its president. “Assad has many faults, but imagine, he has also qualities,” he explained, “schools were free, as hospitals, mosques as churches paid no tax, but be honest, what other government in the region does such things? Remember this, too: if we prefer to support the government, it is because we fear the establishment of a Sunni theocracy that would deprive us of the right to live on our own land.”

“Yes, I have tried to say all these things to the French authorities, but what do you expect from a Laurent Fabius who thinks he is God the Father in deciding who deserves or not to live on this Earth?” he finally answered, visibly tired [Laurent Fabius said Assad “does not deserve to be on Earth “].

“Is it possible that France – the France that I love and that educated me through its religious communities in Syria – has changed so much? Is it possible that her interests and her love of money have taken precedence over the values France once defended?” said the Archbishop with some bitterness.

To the question of the posting of French bishops, the Pakistani bishop, also present, would not answer. Monseigneur Jeanbart again took over the microphone.
“The Conference of Bishops of France should trust us, it would have been better informed. Why is it that your bishops are silent on a threat that is now yours as well? Because even the bishops are like all of you, brought up in political correctness. But Jesus was never politically correct, politically Jesus was just!” he exclaimed.
“The responsibility of a bishop is to teach, and to use his influence to convey the truth. Why you are bishops afraid to speak up? Of course they will be criticized, but it will give them the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend this truth. We must remember that silence is sometimes a sign of acquiescence. ” 

It is also the migration policy of Western countries that the archbishop criticized. “Selfishness and interests slavishly defended by your governments will eventually kill you too. Open your eyes, do not you see what happened recently in Paris?,” added the archbishop, before concluding as a suppliant:” We need you to help us to live in our home! […] I cannot accept seeing our two thousand year old Church disappear. I would rather die than live to see it.”

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