Thursday 28 June 2012

UPDATE - The Holy See And Senior Catholic Church Members Criticise Pro-Assad Clergy

I've been contacted by Professor Christian Cannuyer regarding the below article, and the Le Monde article it was based on to make some corrections.  The original text in French is here, and here's the Google Translated version


Dated June 23, 2012, I spoke to a circle of friends an account of
my participation in the work of ROACO ("Riunione Opere Aiuto Chiese
Orientali ") in Rome and a report on the situation in Syria what was
presented Mgr Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria. This message was
distributed by third parties on "blogs" or news organizations to
international exposure, sometimes with amenities which I don '
I had no control. This diffusion was not my intention
If, as it was reproduced, translated this message into the substance table
Update by the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop, he may, in
formulation that has been given, leaving the impression that the nuncio would
specifically criticized the positions of some church figures, to
namely S. B. Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch
Melkite Greek-Catholic, S. Exc. Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Archbishop
Greek Melkite Catholic Aleppo, Mother Agnes of the Cross-Mariam, upper
convent March Yacoub Qara, or Father Philippe Tournyol Clos. I
should like to point out that never in his presentation Bishop Zenari did not invoke
named these people. The reference to them in my message of June 23
was part of a personal phrase that has not been associated with
report of the presentation of the nuncio and does not commit it.
While it remains true that my analysis of the situation in Syria, including the degree
infiltration of radical Salafist movements in opposition to
regime and the subsequent risk incurred by the Christian minority, differs
those expressed or attributed, probably not without strain, in
some media personalities named, I take issue against
any formulation or presentation of my message that would leave people believe that
I would suspect them of misinformation, dubious proximity with the
Syrian regime voluntarily or excessive dramatization. I express
my confidence in the integrity, dedication pastoral concern for the truth and
sincere desire to ease interfaith driving these people
and all these churches in Syria.
I reject also any presentation of my message suggesting that the
Holy See or ROACO would officially voted in this
material or on the case of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, which has been forced to
leave Syria.
It is incomprehensible that I wear to HB Patriarch Gregory
III, Archbishop Jeanbart-Mariam or Mother Agnes Cross charges that
some presentations seem to express my message, to the extent
I myself, in the journal Solidarity East / Werk voor het Oosten, that
I head to Brussels, repeatedly mentioned the pastoral work of
humanitarian and spiritual commitment of these outstanding personalities of
Concerning the Abbot Tournyol Clos, this is not the quality of
Archimandrite of the Patriarchate of Antioch Melkite Greek Catholics,
which is proved, which is involved in my message, but the dignity
Episcopal some media have mistakenly attributed to him. The terms
its presence in Homs and the testimony he presented, which I still
to challenge the relevance, have not been the subject of a declaration
Official Papal Nuncio or the Vatican authorities.
Therefore, I urge all media organizations or
exchanges of opinion have published my message of June 23 of the
withdraw from their site and insert in its place the present correction.
I continue to support - and this is the free opinion - that there
not, for now, Syria, the systematic hunting of Christians
from opposition factions, and a real friendship between the
majority of Muslims and Christians continues to prevail. This was well
main content About Mgr Zenari held at the meeting of the
ROACO to which I attended. But everything in my text, could
appear as a charge against the personalities
is above interpolations, shortcuts or settling
unfortunate. I therefore reiterate my demand that it be removed from all
sites where it was inserted.
Prof. Christian Cannuyer
Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Lille
President of the Belgian Society of Oriental Studies
Director of the Solidarity Bulletin East, Brussels
The original article is below:

Recently, during a meeting of the Assembly of the Reunion Of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), a number of outspoken Christian figures were criticised for the views they've been expressing about the Free Syrian Army and situation in Syria by Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus.

He began by describing events in Syria as a genuine popular uprising and that the majority of opposition members were not radical and not anti-Christian.  He said there was no systematic persecution of Christians, and that Christians had been killed alongside Alawites and Sunnis in bombings and skirmishes, but not because of their religious beliefs.  He added that to his knowledge no Christian church has been attacked as part of sectarian violence.

He then went onto denounce the alarmist rhetoric of some individuals, including:

- Archbishop Jeanbart, bishop of Aleppo
- Greek-Catholic Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III-Catholic
- Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross

Saying that those who make such statements are engaged in disinformation.  He went on to say that he was convinced if they were not on the payroll of the Assad regime then they were being manipulated by the Assad regime.  Their words fuel rumours, and reinforce the idea that the Assad regime are the defenders of Christian minorities, and that attitudewhich borders on collaboration while eventually cost them dearly.

He goes onto say that there have been examples of extraordinary acts of solidarity between Christians and Muslims at the height of the conflict, and far from being "persecuted" Christians, at least so far, are respected and cared for, both by the army and by the insurgent forces.

At the same meeting the Catholic hierarchy had their attention drawn to the activism of the alleged Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos, "a greek-Catholic Melkite Archimandrite".  The Holy See says he is absolutely not a member of the Catholic hierarchy, he is not entitled to any of the titles which he claims, and his allegations he has made are false.  Tournyol was described as a renegade Catholic fundamentalist and extreme right-winger, and his actions described as endangering the Jesuits who have always been keen to maintain dialogue among all communities in Syria.

Both Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross and Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos have been quite active recently, letting the worlds media know about the supposed threats to Christians in Syria, with Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross claiming things such as
Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James at Qara in the Diocese of Homs, claimed that the opposition Free Syrian Army told Christians to get out, saying, "Yes ... it was commander on the ground Abdel Salam Harba who decided that there was to be no more negotiations with Christians." She said that Christians are being targeted because they remain non-partisan in the conflict.
and Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos
In Homs, opposition forces have occupied two areas, Diwan Al Bustan and Hamidieh, where there are all the churches and bishoprics. The picture for us is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside. A priest was killed and another was wounded by three bullets.
And even appearing on Sky News

Mother Agnes Mariam claims about the Houla massacre were also basis of a controversial article in the German newspaper FAZ which has resulted in an ongoing spat between John Rosenthal and Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi and Phillip Smyth, which in the light of the latest comments from the Catholic Church suggests John Rosenthal may owe the other two an apology. Hopefully the media will take some time to reflect on what has been said about these individuals at the ROACO, and treat their claims with more cynicism in the future.
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully the media will do its job and examine whether these photos and videos of Christian and Jewish graves being desecrated are accurate:

    Plus the Al-Qaeda uniforms.