Over at Crux, John Allen has rounded up some of the Easter Messages of various Middle-Easter church leaders, and they reveal some righteous anger and impatience with the West, and with Muslim leadership in neighboring countries and, most affectingly, a dogged determination that they will not be driven out of their homelands:
Cardinal Bechara Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon said,
“It is shameful for the rulers of states – with financial and military influence – who have made our eastern land a land of war, killing and destruction, a haven for terrorist organizations and fundamentalist movements. They have ignited a fire they think burns in its place, but it has spread.”
He also condemned the “blatant and repeated persecution of Christians” in Egypt. He called upon “Muslims and Islamic countries to take active positions and initiatives to deter this persecution and to preserve the positive image of Islam.”
Rai reiterated that Christians have existed in Egypt and the Arab countries for 2,000 years. “They laid the foundations of their civilizations before the advent of Islam by a half century.”
He assured all those who are suffering that even if those wielding power “can destroy your homes and the achievements of your civilization, they will not be able to destroy your faith and love for your homeland and hope in your hearts.”
In Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said knowledge and faith of the mystery of the Resurrection does not exempt the faithful from experiencing trials, pain and darkness.
In countries such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, “it seems that hatred and contempt in social and religious relations prevail over everything, and so human, religious and civil respect have become empty words,” he said. “Woe to us if we surrender to all this.”
Read the whole thing, and don’t forget to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.