Listen To This Bishop Describe How Syria’s Earliest Christians Came To Be [VIDEO]
Americans often associate the Middle East exclusively with Islam. But Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Syria, is quick to remind Westerners that Syria has been home to Christians since the very beginning of the faith.
Syria’s four-year civil war, pitting Islamist rebels against the government of President Bashar Assad, has caused many Syrian Christians to consider fleeing their homeland for good. While Archbishop Jeanbart has championed a project called “Built To Stay” to encourage them to remain in the region, he says that barely half of Aleppo’s 170,000 Christians remain in the city, which is Syria’s largest.
Upon returning to Syria, he writes, he found his cathedral “gravely damaged” and his archdiocesan headquarters destroyed. And in the past week, Islamic State fighters have kept advancing on Aleppo, further threatening the lives and livelihoods of its citizens.
Jeanbart told The Daily Caller News Foundation about the 2,000-year history of his community on a recent visit to the U.S
More highlights from our interview:
TheDNCF: Who are the souls you take care of?
Archbishop Jeanbart: Syrians, who have been in this country since the very beginning of Christianity. They were baptized by the Apostles just after the Pentecost, either in Aleppo or Damascus, all over Syria. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that there were 3,000 people baptized that day. These 3,000 people were people of Syria and Lebanon and the region.
TheDNCF: In 2015, what is their condition now? How many of Aleppo was Christian before the war, and how many remain today?
Jeanbart: Before the war, there were around 170,000 Christians in Aleppo. I think I’m afraid we are not much more than 100,000, but we do not have statistics.
TheDNCF: What has happened to them?
Jeanbart: They went away to find somewhere most secure. A shelter, either in Lebanon, Jordan or the shore side of Syria— Lattakia, etc. Some of them immigrated to Australia, Canada, Sweden and Germany. I hope that not many of them immigrated. We hope that they will come back after the war.
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