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Syrian Archbishop: “We expect Christians in the West to help us. They do not”

Why don’t the Christians in the West help them? Because it might harm the dialogue: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” —Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, February 8, 2013

“Syrian Archbishop: ‘We expect Christians in the West to help us. They do not,’” by David Gibson, Religion News Service, May 4, 2015:

NEW YORK (RNS) Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo is returning to the front line of the real war on Christians, which he calls home — that is, Aleppo in war-torn Syria, where his ancient church faces the threat of extinction.

I wrote here about Jeanbart, who was in the U.S. last week in an effort to raise awareness about the plight of Christians in Syria — they include his Eastern-rite Melkite Catholics as well or Eastern Orthodox and other churches — and to raise money for their survival.

The archbishop is a remarkable figure, facing the personal danger while trying to protect an entire community and tradition and way of life. He had controversial things to say (at least in the U.S. political context) about supporting Syrian president Assad; when faced with ISIS as the alternative, you understand his “devil-you-know” choice.

But Assad may be at risk of falling. Americans are not likely to shed a tear for him, and many have been pushing the administration to aid the Islamist rebels, who could wind up slaughtering what’s left of the Christians in Aleppo and elsewhere.

And American Christians know so little about their fellow believers in the region, or even that such Christians exist, that Middle East church leaders like Jeanbart face an uphill battle:

“We expect Christians in the West to help us. They do not,” as Jeanbart told Cardinal Timothy Dolan during the New York archbishop’s weekly radio show.

I couldn’t include all of the interview in the first version, so wanted to pick it up here with the question:
What does Archbishop Jeanbart want?

In short, he thinks the West, led by the U.S., should work to stop the flow of arms into the country. He does not want Western military intervention in terms of boots on the ground – just a ceasefire so that Syrians themselves have a chance to work out their problems in a way that respects each community. That’s how it was for centuries, and he says that’s how it can be again.

Most immediately, he wants material support for Syrian Christians.

A chief problem, church officials say, is that Christians who are among the nearly 8 million internally displaced people in Syria are afraid to go to refugee camps that receive the bulk of international humanitarian aid because they would have to register to enter and could then be pegged as Christians – and would be targets all over again.

So Christians wind up trying to stay put in war zones, or seek refuge in churches, Catholic hospitals or schools, or the homes of relatives. (Aid to the Church in Need has pledged $2.8 in emergency aid for Christians in Syria.)

“The church will support us in a way, morally and spiritually. But the church has very little material means,” Jeanbart said. “It doesn’t have armies. It doesn’t have budgets to help. Nobody has ever taken care of us.”

“We expect Christians in the West to help us. They do not,” Jeanbart, his voice rising in frustration, told Cardinal Timothy Dolan during the New York archbishop’s weekly radio show.

Jeanbart said that on the other hand, his Muslim neighbors and religious leaders in the city have often offered him a place to live or hold services….

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Florida Baptist Convention opposes Amendment 2

The Florida Baptist Convention has issued a resolution in opposition to the marijuana Amendment 2. John Sullivan in an email to all Pastors and Church leaders states, “The following resolution, which calls for the defeat of Amendment 2 – that seeks to legalize marijuana for “medicinal purposes” in Florida – was adopted by the State Board of Mission on September 19, 2014.”

Florida’s Baptist Pastors and Church leaders are now taking a political stand and asking all their member to vote no on Amendment 2.

The basis of the opposition is on the broad nature of the Amendment, which in effect legalizes marijuana for recreational purposes. For 23 years it has been legal to use of marijuana for medical purposes in Florida. The Florida legislature during the 2014 session, expanded use of non-addictive marijuana derivatives for medical purposes only.

The following is the full text of the resolution:

RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE THE LEGALIZATION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA

WHEREAS, the November 4, 2014, General Election ballot will contain Amendment 2 – the so-called Florida Right to Medical Marijuana; and

WHEREAS, the ballot initiative seeks to permit persons with nine specific medical conditions to have unlimited access to medical marijuana; and

WHEREAS, the Amendment also provides that medical marijuana can be dispensed without a physician’s prescription for broad but undefined “other conditions” which can include anything from back pain to trouble sleeping; and

WHEREAS, so-called caregivers will be legally permitted to dispense the drug to up to five persons without legal regulation; and a caregiver can be anyone from a felon to a drug dealer; and

WHEREAS, the State Board of Missions has individual and corporate empathy for those Floridians suffering from debilitating diseases, but the Board does not believe legalizing an addictive drug without strong regulatory oversight is an appropriate solution; and

WHEREAS, the effort to legalize marijuana is contrary to the interests of the public health, safety and welfare, and will adversely affect the rights of citizens to live and work in a community where drug abuse is not accepted and citizens are not subjected to the adverse effects of the drug abuse; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED that the State Board of Missions of the Florida Baptist State Convention, go on record to oppose Amendment 2 that will appear on the November 4, 2014, General Election ballot; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board call upon Florida Baptist pastors to diligently encourage their church members to promote and vote to defeat Amendment 2; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Board request the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, to take all reasonable actions to notify and create awareness among Florida Baptists on the importance of voting against Amendment 2.