“We have to rebuild trust between Muslims and Christians even if it’s not easy”

Archimandrite Mtanios Haddad is the representative of the Greek-Catholic Patriarch in Rome.

Christians in the Middle East do not want to throw away 1,400 years of coexistence in the region. While their history has seen better and worse times, they soon hope to return to their homes in places like Syria or Iraq after the crisis ends.

FR. MTANIOS HADDAD
Archimandrite of the Greek-Catholic Church
“We’ll be back, yes. We will return to Iraq, to Mosul, to Syria, to Maalula, to Beirut and to every place we have lived. They are our homes and our lands. So, what are we going to leave them for? To whom? To what civilization? We must go back and rebuild trust between ourselves little by little. Even if it’s not easy.”

The aftermath of exacerbated extremism and the war is the main challenge, especially for minorities. In most cases they are the targets of the attacks. As such, they rightfully claim to be citizens, not just tolerated in their own land.

FR. MTANIOS HADDAD
Archimandrite of the Greco-Catholic Church
“If they want to reduce us to minorities, or treat us as if we are, or as if we are expatriates, I tell them that we do not feel that way. We are genuine citizens and landowners, who have rights and ask for a dignified life in our home country.”

Fr. Mtanios is Syrian and represents the Greek-Catholic patriarch in Rome, the country’s majority Catholic rite. He says that the presence of Christians in the Middle East is not optional, but necessary. Muslims share the same sentiment, because Christians are a sign of stability.

FR. MTANIOS HADDAD
Archimandrite of the Greco-Catholic Church
“I am convinced that coexistence will not end. It should not end, because if it does, there will be no Christian presence. Without this presence, a new Jihad war could begin between a Muslim East and a Christian West. This Christian presence is what ensures the victory of balance and coexistence.”

The expulsion of ISIS from territories in Syria and Iraq will enable the refugees to return to their land, as well as instill the hope of definitive peace. Along with them comes a renewed promise of rebuilding the coexistence between the rich cultures of the Middle East.