The Arab world needs the Gospel and its teachings of love, peace and forgiveness the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch has said.
Addressing a group of Maronite missionaries at his summer residence in Diman, Lebanon, July 9, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai said the Arab world needs the teachings of the Gospel – “those of love, brotherhood, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation”.
“In these times, we unfortunately live in a culture contrary to the teachings of God,” he is quoted as saying in a report by Fides News Agency. “War, violence, terrorism, murder and hatred is what prevails”.
But faced with this reality, “we cannot remain in inertia,” he added. “On the contrary, we must increase our activities and increase our hope”.
Patriarch Rai said the troubles prevailing in the Middle East “must not distract our attention from our task”. Instead, he continued, “we must remind everyone that Christians are here to spread the culture of the Bible”.
“There is no Arab spring without a Christian spring, and there is no Arab spring without a Lebanese spring”, he said.
The group of missionaries in attendance was led by Fr. Abu Malek Tanos, of the Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries.
Patriarch Rai’s comments come as thousands of Christians have been fleeing parts of the region due to instability, violence and persecution. Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad said earlier this month that he fears Christian life will eventually come to an end in the region.
“In ten years there will perhaps be 50,000 Christians left” in Iraq, he said in a statement released by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. “Prior to 2003, this figure was about 1.2 million. Within ten years we have shrunk to a community of perhaps four to five hundred thousand faithful,” he added.