The Catholic Patriarch of Syria has recently stated that a United States attack on Syria would be a “criminal act,” highlighting how U.S. government interventionism not only affects millions of innocents negatively but also has a drastic effect upon the church in those countries.
Quoting Patriarch Gregory (from CNSNews.com):
“We must listen to the Pope’s appeal for peace in Syria,” said Patriarch Gregory III. “If Western countries want to create true democracy then they must build it on reconciliation, through dialogue between Christians and Muslims, not with weapons. This attack being planned by the United States is a criminal act, which will only reap more victims, in addition to the tens of thousands of these two years of war. This will destroy the Arab world’s trust in the West.”
The Patriarch also criticized how multiple countries – including the United States – have sent money, weapons, and expertise to the brutal rebels in Syria in an effort to disrupt the region:
“For the last two and a half years, Eastern and Western countries have not stopped sending weapons, money, military experts, secret service agents and Salafist fundamentalist armed gangs of thugs and criminals, who have fallen on Syria like a destructive new flood, far more dangerous even than destructive chemical weapons, whose use on our Syrian soil we reject on any pretext whatever…”
“Those above mentioned factors have caused the death of 100,000 victims, the forced displacement of eight million Syrians, the traumatisation [sic] of 2 million children, the destruction of the academic future of millions of school-children and students and the destruction of thousands of villages,” he said, “not to mention the wrecking of both infrastructure and institutions, widespread chaos, the abduction of thousands of people (men, women and children), rape, extortion of ransom, robberies, assaults on civilians, hatred, enmity, revenge, exacerbation of ethnic and religious conflicts, and that among members of the same country, or sometimes of the same family.”
Church leaders all over the world, including Pope Francis, have been adamant that churches in Syria need help, not military intervention.
The [Barnabus Fund’s] honorary U.S. director, Anglican Bishop Julian Dobbs, has written to Obama, urging him to consider the consequences for Christians as he mulls military action against the Assad regime in response to an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack.
“Military action that results in the demise of President Assad’s forces would almost certainly allow a strengthened al-Qaeda presence in Syria that would result in significant and increased persecution of Syrian Christians,” he wrote.
Citing “the destruction of the Iraqi Christian community” in the aftermath of the U.S.-led war there, Dobbs asked Obama, “What guarantees of security and religious freedom can you and your administration give to the already suffering Christian community in Syria if a military intervention is initiated by the United States?”
This would not be the first time that U.S. wars have caused great pain and persecution to the church. In 2011, for instance, the U.S. State Department admitted that there were no more churches in Afghanistan – a direct result of American interventionism.
Contrary to popular American Christian beliefs, U.S. wars do not promote peace, stability, nor Christianity abroad. Instead, war destroys lives and frequently decimates the church universal. It drives enmity between peoples who never were in conflict with each other, and sows seeds of hatred leading to blowback such as the 9-11 attacks.
Going to war so you can fight for peace is nonsensical. Comedian George Carlin once likened it to “having sex to preserve virginity,” although Carlin used more colorful language. Christians must understand that sowing the seeds of war will inevitably involve reaping more war, and such will always result in travails for the church.
If you truly seek peace, you must oppose war.
Update: This article was featured on Independent Political Report on September 20, 2013.