Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/24/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christians in the West have turned a blind eye to Middle Eastern Christians' plight, they say

Christians in the West must take seriously their duty to support those suffering in the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, said a team of filmmakers working on a documentary about the subject.

The filmmakers hope that Christians in the West will push their lawmakers to enact policies that help to protect their brethren in the Middle East.

The filmmakers hope that Christians in the West will push their lawmakers to enact policies that help to protect their brethren in the Middle East.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/24/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Middle East, Christians, documentary filmmakers


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Christianity began in the East, and Christians in the West seem to have forgotten that fact," said Drew Bowling, a Washington, D.C.-based writer working on the documentary project.

"It's tragic to see Christianity in the East under threat, and see Christians in the West who are not under such threats ignore it or fail to do what they can," he told CNA in a Feb. 4 interview, noting that many in the West simply do not realize the challenges being faced elsewhere.

See our stunning collection of crib medals -- by going here!


Bowling is working alongside writer Andrew Doran and filmmaker Jordan Allott to create a documentary about the violence and discrimination facing Christians in the Middle East.

Allott said he wants to bring attention to the matter and to put "pressure" on lawmakers in the West "to stand up for Christians." He hopes viewers of the documentary will "feel a connection with the subjects," and want "to help them in a time of need."

"Our faith is what it is here because of what their ancestors did there," Allott said, stressing the link between Christianity in the West and its roots in the Middle East.

The filmmakers hope to demonstrate the charity, resilience and determination of Christians in the region. Allott pointed to one man they met in Beirut, Lebanon, named George Maalouly. An Orthodox Christian, Maalouly was actively engaged in the Christian community, praying the Rosary and hosting prayer groups in his house.

Maalouly also helped those in need, regardless of faith, Allott said. He housed two Muslim Syrian refugees in a van, giving them electricity and food, and he "even came by with Christmas presents for the children."

This example is not isolated, Bowling said, pointing to the charity of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Lebanon's Beqaa valley, who work to shelter and feed Syrian refugees.

Many of the refugee camps have become sites for increasing extremism, due to radical rebels, lack of resources and dire situations; however, these sisters and other Christians caring for largely Muslim refugee populations "provide filters for radicalization" and an example of interreligious cooperation.

"Despite the fact that they are the ones marginalized, they are the ones serving Muslims" who are injured or displaced by conflicts in the region, Doran said. "They are bridges to peace for their own communities and for the outside world."

Bowling said that he was particularly struck by the resilience of a 12-year-old boy named Elias, who he met at the Turkey-Syria border. While walking to school one day, Elias was "seized from behind,
blindfolded and gagged" by al-Qaida affiliates. While he was later rescued, the kidnapping, combined with the loss of other family members in the Syrian civil war, compelled his family to flee the country.

Elias and his family are "now living in this Turkish refugee camp, completely impoverished, with no money to go anywhere," Bowling said. But "in spite of all these hardships, they remain hopeful they can one day return to their homeland in Syria."

"Elias and his family want to remain in the Middle East because they believe that is the homeland of Christians," he said, adding that many Christians he talked to in the region "did not want to emigrate."

"They have a history," with a multi-generational attachment to the land, he explained. "The idea of them disappearing entirely is heart wrenching."

But after years of violence and political unrest, Christians who choose to remain in the region face mounting difficulties. Bowling recalled that the day he arrived in Lebanon, al-Qaida affiliates "burned to the ground the most ancient Orthodox library in Tripoli."

"They talked about the flames coming from that library as being symbolic of the fate of all the Christians in that country," saying that the Christians would face damnation and hellfire for their beliefs, he said.

Doran described an encounter with an Armenian Syrian woman named Sita that has been "seared" into his memory. Now living after her husband was shot by snipers in the streets of Aleppo, Sita looked at Doran with a "face seized with anguish," pleading, "Help me."

"That just stayed with me," he said, explaining his "feeling of frustration, anger and helplessness" at being unable to aid the suffering woman.

Doran hopes Christians in the West will push their lawmakers to enact policies that help to protect their brethren in the Middle East.

"Christians in that part of the world and moderate Muslims are baffled that our government has taken the policies it has," he said, suggesting that Western policies supporting some revolutions and political groups have tended "to have predictable and negative consequences for Christians and moderate Muslims."

U.S. foreign policy "tends to blunder to the benefit of extremist groups" toward supporting governments and institutions that "contribute to the gradual erosion" of a Christian presence in the Middle East, he said. "On a basic human rights level we should not be giving money to
governments essentially enforcing apartheid" against Christian populations, he added.

Doran encouraged Western Christians not only to get involved in foreign policy concerns, but to reach out the Christians in the Middle East, particularly through their churches. While safety is important, he added, traveling to the Middle East is an opportunity for great witness on the behalf of Christians in the region - especially for clergy members.

"This is a part of the world that still respects men of the cloth, even if they're of a different faith," he said, encouraging clergy members to speak about persecution.

Observing a silver lining amid the violence confronting Middle East Christians, Doran said that the oppression has created a "growing sense of a single identity" that transcends old theological and historical disputes between different Christian denominations. He also said that he had witnessed "moderate Muslims identifying with Christians" in the region.

Despite the current turmoil and persecution, Doran predicted that "there will never be a Middle East without Christians." He believes the Christian communities in the region will "absolutely survive" the violence and oppression they are currently facing.

"The only question that remains is how much suffering are they going to endure in the next 25 years."

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Middle East

Islamists Occupy Churches in Nigeria: ISIL and Boko Haram Hate Christians, Must be Confronted Watch

Image of Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden in the Hausa language. These Islamist terrorists hate all things western and Christian. They are militant Jihadist Muslims who intend to forcibly establish an Islamic Caliphate and impose Shariah Law on everyone, just as the Islamic State is doing in lands formerly claimed by Iraq and Syria.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

While news reports give us the gruesome details of the Islamic State beheading one more American journalist in the land which was once a part of Iraq and Syria, the rising tide of Islamist evil spreads in Africa, under the banner of Boko Haram. Like the Islamic ... continue reading


Paul Bhatti, Brother of Martyr Shabhaz Bhatti, Urges Pope Francis to Visit Persecuted Christians in Pakistan Watch

Image of The Christian Martyr of Pakistan, Shabhaz Bhatti,

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The world should pause once again to consider the Christian heroism shown by Shabhaz Bhatti in 2011. At the time, Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian member of the Parliament of Pakistan. He was executed in cold blood by militant Islamists on March 2, 2011. He ... continue reading


CATHOLIC ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Islamic State infiltrating North Africa Watch

Image of A recruitment campaign, led by ISIL in the North African region has been targeting young people with socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL or IS was created last year in the wake of the multinational war against Syria. They design to eventually take over the world. This mysterious terrorist movement is becoming more and more prevalent in ... continue reading


Steven Sotloff beheading video, uncensored (WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO) Watch

Image of American Journalist, Steven Sotloff, has been executed by the Islamic State.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has executed another hostage, this time beheading American journalist Steven Sotloff. A video has been released of the incident, but due to alleged self-censorship across the web, the footage has been suppressed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'We are facing a terrorist monster:' U.N. to investigate IS' crimes against humanity Watch

Image of Among other things, children belonging to targeted minorities have been forcibly recruited and positioned on front lines to shield fighters or made to donate blood. Women are beaten for breaking rules requiring them to be veiled and escorted by men.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations will be sending investigators to Iraq to examine crimes being committed by Islamic State fighters committed on "an unimaginable scale." Authorities say they will hold perpetrators accountable. LOS ANGELES, CA  (Catholic Online) - "We are ... continue reading


Pope Francis thanks Gaza's sole Catholic priest; tells him to 'have courage' Watch

Image of Father Hernandez and three Missionaries of Charity were the only religious left at Holy Family Church during a 50-day battle between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Father Jorge Hernandez, the Gaza Strip's sole Catholic parish met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, thanking him for his support of those suffering in the war-torn territory. Speaking to Vatican Radio, the 36-year-old priest says that the Pope continued to ... continue reading


Islamic puritans threaten dissent in Saudi kingdom, asking King Abdullah to DESTROY the tomb of MOHAMED! Watch

Image of Wahhabi clerics are asking King Abdullah to destroy the tomb of Mohamed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recommendation from some Saudi clerics to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is creating controversy in the powerful Middle-Eastern kingdom. The proposal, set forth by hardline clerics, calls for the destruction of the tomb of Mohammed and possibly the shrine at Mecca, to ... continue reading


World 'cannot keep silent about the existence of the so-called ISIS,' patriarchs declare Watch

Image of The recent summit addressing IS was presided over by Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Meeting at the Maronite Catholic patriarchate at Bkerke, north of Beirut, Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs convened for a special summit to address the crisis in Iraq and Syria. Later joined by the United Nations' special coordinator in Lebanon and the ... continue reading


U.S., Europe next on Islamic State's list to attack, Saudi king warns Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the world grows more appalled by the day about the inhumanities conducted by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah warns that the west is not immune. A staunch ally of both the U.S. and its allies, Saudi King Abdullah bin ... continue reading


Fleeing imminent death, three million Syrians now registered in other countries. That's half the population of Syria. Watch

Image of A bride crossing the Israel-Syria border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them," Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement. As of this ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 3:1-9
1 And so, brothers, I was not able to talk to you as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 3rd, 2014 Image

Pope Saint Gregory the Great
September 3: St. Gregory, born at Rome about the year 540, was the son of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter