In his speech at the International Summit on Religious Freedom in Washington, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, talked on the persecution and even physical destruction of Christians in a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa, as well as on the discrimination against believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Speaking about the summit in the Church and the World program, the archpastor noted: “The United States of America is a very diverse country. Despite the anti-Russian propaganda that has been going on there for many years, there are many people in the United States who have a great liking to both our country and the Russian Orthodox Church. They are ready and happy to listen to us. The event was organized by Open Doors, which is researching the situation in different countries related to the oppression of certain religious groups.”
The DECR chairman stated that in recent years a tragic situation has developed for Christians in a number of countries in the Middle East region and Africa.
“For example, this is Iraq, where there used to be one and a half million Christians under the government of Saddam Hussein, and now there is only one tenth of that number, at best. This is Libya, where there are practically no Christians left. This is Syria, which many Christians were forced to leave, and not so much because of the war, but as a result of the actions of terrorists: they systematically persecuted and even massacred the Christian population, where they were in power,” said Metropolitan Hilarion, stressing that tragic statistics indicate that the number of Christians throughout the Middle East is rapidly declining. Even in relatively prosperous countries such as Lebanon, Christians are becoming less and less numerous, although until recently they made up about 50 percent of the population.
The United States of America shares part of responsibility for this situation, the hierarch believes: “Because it was they who invaded Iraq, it was they who promised to restore order and establish democracy there. But we see that there is no democracy there, that the regime that was overthrown was replaced by uncontrollable chaos, and this became the reason for the mass exodus, I would even say, the flight of Christians.”
He also believes it is important that the United States hear information about the real situation in the religious sphere in Ukraine, about the situation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is the largest religious organization in this country, which maintains spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate.
“Usually they hear completely different information,” said the DECR chairman. “For example, the former US Secretary of State M. Pompeo, summing up the results of his activities in this position, proudly wrote on Twitter that he helped the Ukrainian Metropolitan to free himself from the influence of Moscow. Even the very wording that was used indicates a low level of knowledge about what is happening in Ukraine, which characterizes some high-ranking American officials. Therefore, it was important to talk about what is really happening there: how priests and parishioners are expelled from churches and how they pray in the open air, how churches seized by schismatics are empty or are locked up. Let our American partners hear about it.”
Translated by pravmir.com