Be Not Afraid, Middle East Christians

There is great uncertainty and great fear” among Christians in Egypt and Syria, said Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., on Aug. 24. But Christians should take courage. “We must not be afraid...to say how things really are with clarity, but also maintaining a Christian attitude of witness, openness, welcome and trying in every case to reconstruct dialogue and relationships,” he said, speaking during a conference sponsored by the Communion and Liberation movement in Rimini, Italy. The changes sweeping through countries across North Africa and extending to Syria obviously give rise to hopes, but also concerns, he said. “Right now in Egypt there is much fear and uncertainty because, after a period of euphoria” and unity after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, “it seems that the more fundamentalist parties are prevailing,” he said. In Syria, “Christians were and still are treated with great respect,” but the protest movements against the government have led to concerns that the respect they were guaranteed for decades may be threatened.

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