(JNS.org) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem lamented the ongoing suffering of Middle East Christians during a recent visit to Italy.
Fouad Twal, the Catholic Church’s top official in the Holy Land, said during his homily at the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears in the Sicilian city of Syracuse that the uncertain future for Middle East Christians “weighs heavily on all people” and “remains a source of deep concern,” Vatican Radio reported.
Twal noted threats written on church and monastery walls throughout the region, called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a “tangled knot,” and said that “the terrorism of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria… frightens the whole world.”
While Israel has one of the few growing Christian communities in the Middle East, Christians in the Palestinian territories face an uncertain future given the threat posed by Islamic extremist groups like Hamas. Yet despite the persecution faced by Palestinian Christians as well as Christians throughout the Middle East—especially in war-torn Syria and Iraq, where jihadists from Islamic State have carried out mass executions of Christians and other minorities—some Christians have vowed to remain in the region.
“Even today there are plenty of Christians faithful to Christ in the Middle East [who] have preferred death, [or] preferred to migrate and to give away everything, but [they have] never agreed to convert to Islam in order to save their lives,” said Twal.