It is important and inspiring to recall once again the words of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the 3rd Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom in Washington, DC in December 2017 retain their wisdom and power:
All Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East are facing dire consequences due to the constant upheavals and disastrous war-making that have afflicted the region for a season of intolerable length.
As we declared in 2014 with our brother, His Holiness Pope Francis:
From this holy city of Jerusalem, we express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands. In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events. We encourage all parties regardless of their religious convictions to continue to work for reconciliation and for the just recognition of peoples’ rights. We are persuaded that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace.
Our appeal continues to this day, more urgent than ever.
“Brownback: Christianity’s future in Middle East has reached defining moment,” by Josephine von Dohlen, Catholic News Service, September 13, 2019:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a room full of religious leaders, politicians and other supporters of protecting Christians threatened in the Middle East, Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, urged more prayer and action to continue supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
“There are millions of people, right now, praying in quiet corners, in little houses or huts, that are persecuted throughout the world,” Brownback said in his keynote address at the sixth annual Solidarity Dinner hosted by In Defense of Christians Sept. 10. “They’re praying to God saying, ‘Help us, we need some help here.’ … And that is why you are here, it is those prayers.”
Honored as the recipient of the Charles Malik Human Rights Award for his leadership in the Middle East, Brownback continued to encourage attendees to fight for the safety of Christians, and religious freedom, worldwide in this crucial time.
“There is more persecution of Christians now, arguably than any time in the history of the world, and the Christian faith is the most persecuted faith in the world, by far,” Brownback said. “And there are people being killed today because of their faith and they are simple, good people who want to just honestly and peacefully practice their faith. And they’re being killed for it.”
In Defense of Christians is a Washington-based nonprofit that seeks to bring together Christians working to change the policies that threaten Christians in the Middle East, as well as educate Americans on the reality of the situations in the Middle East.
Each year the organization holds its Solidarity Dinner as the first part of a two-day National Leadership Conference that includes a Capitol Hill advocacy day.
Brownback said the future of Christianity in the Middle East has reached a defining moment.
“If we’re not successful, there will not be a multireligious Middle East; it will no longer exist,” Brownback said. “Most of the Christians have been driven out of the Middle East already, and we’re trying to work to fight to keep them there, but you’ve got to push now, and now is the season we can get it done.”
While Brownback acknowledged the critical situation for Christians in the Middle East, he also spoke to the hope that he has for the coming months.
“The season is important; the time is short,” Brownback said. “I believe we have the opportunity in the next nine months to do more for religious freedom than has happened in the last 20 years.”…