“At talks with the Pope we agreed that we need to meet and speak loudly to the whole world about the persecutions against Christians. This meeting happened and the world started talking,” the patriarch said after a liturgy at the Christ the Savior’s Cathedral.
“Surprisingly, the U.S. Congress suddenly declared the extermination of Christians in the Middle East a genocide. We did ask them to say that it is genocide, that it is killing. There was no answer, and now there is one because the voice of the East and West united and said the most important thing that worries all of us today,” he said.
The patriarch said that of the million and a half Iraqi Christians only 150,000 remain; Syria which used to have as many Christians now has 500,000; and that the Middle Eastern Christian leaders had asked the patriarch before for assistance in discontinuing the persecutions.
The patriarch said that he raised this issue at meetings with country leaders and at international forums, “and it was as if no one heard anything.”
Citing data from international organizations, he said that “a Christian gets killed in the world every five minutes, more or less than 300 people a day and over 100,000 per year.”
“Today the world’s Christians are being persecuted like they have never been before, neither in the Roman Empire, nor in the Soviet Union is. And we are living as if nothing is happening: it is not us who are being persecuted, but it is somewhere far away,” the patriarch said.