Six Catholic patriarchs from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq met with Pope Francis at the Vatican Friday to discuss the difficulties faced by Christians in the region and their mass emigration.
In the morning of Feb. 7, the pope met Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon; Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch; Coptic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria; Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi of Antioch; Armenian Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of Cilicia; and Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan of Antioch.
Patriarch Younan told CNA that the patriarchs requested the meeting with Pope Francis because of the “dramatic situation of the Middle East in general, whether in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon” and because of the “migratory flux” of the Christian minorities from their homelands.
It is a “a threat to our survival,” he said, explaining that they are struggling to provide proper spiritual assistance to their faithful in other parts of the world, especially Western Europe.
Patriarch Younan said the patriarchs thanked the pope for what he is already, and said they would like the Vatican “to keep defending the cause of all persecuted Christians, all persecuted minorities in the Middle East, where the political situation is not promising for [minorities] and they don’t have the means to defend themselves and provide safety for their communities.”
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