In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Italian edition Monday, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai said the Islamic State and other fundamentalist groups “are taking us back to the Stone Age, back to a time when there wasn’t any law.”
Yet despite the recent atrocities committed against Christians and religious minorities in Iraq, he said the “whole world watches in silence”.
“This is an enormous scandal!,” he said. “This is a plague in humanity.”
He called on the international community to “take responsibility to put an end to these fundamentalist groups to save human dignity and bring peace to the world.
“These groups threaten the whole world because they are rich, supported financially and have all kinds of sophisticated arms given by different states.,” he added. “They constitute an enormous threat!”
The Patriarch insisted that the Christians of the Middle East are not a minority, as the term minority only applies to ethnic, political and cultural groups.
“We are the Church of Christ present in the Middle East, so we are not a minority!,” he said.
Stressing the presence of Christians in the region for two millennia, he said Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq are “Christian cultures with an entirely Christian foundation.” The Islamists, he added, “cannot come here and demolish all that we have built over 1,400 to 2,000 years.”
The Patriarch concluded by saying that human consciences must be “touched by the Word of the Gospel”. Humanity needs to regain its dignity, he said, and assume its responsibilities at an international and local level.
“We Christians,” he said, “endure everything with our brothers, who are the victims in the Middle East, and we bring with them the Cross of Redemption. And we do not give up!”