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Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
 Archdiocese of the Western United States





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September,13 2014

Historic Gathering Has Featured Patriarchs from Middle East, Lawmakers and International Human Rights Activists

In Defense of Christians.’ The organization was founded to stand in solidarity with the Christian communities of the Middle East who are even now facing systematic genocide.

In Defense of Christians (IDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that serves the historic Christian communities of the Middle East through unified, coordinated advocacy and greater public awareness. In particular, IDC seeks to promote awareness and preserve the historic Christian communities of the Middle East and to advocate on their behalf. This awareness will be focused on countries of concern, such as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan, contrasting them with models of equality and pluralism in the region, such as Lebanon and Jordan.

The in defense of Christians (IDC) hosted a historic global Summit for Middle East Christians, September 9-11, in Washington, D.C. This summit will empower the Middle Eastern Christian Diaspora and energize the American people to stand in solidarity the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East. Their survival is vital to stability in the region, and their ability to flourish in their countries of origin has national security implications for the United States.

Summit attendees will have the opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and their staff, policy makers, diplomats, human rights activists, and religious leaders. Speakers include: Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Rai; Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II; Archbishop of Washington Donald Cardinal Wuerl; Leonardo Cardinal Sandri of the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches; Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX); Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL); Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Dr. James Zogby; and Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, total of 17 Republican and Democratic Senators, Congressmen, and Representatives addressed the audience of the conference.

The primary purpose of the Summit is to bring all members of the Diaspora together in a newfound sense of unity. Whether Orthodox or Catholic; Evangelical, Coptic or Maronite; Syriac, Lebanese, Chaldean or Assyrian – all Middle Eastern Christians been called to join together in solidarity. This solidarity strengthened advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials and made more palatable grassroots outreach to the American public. Thus united, Middle Eastern Christians were invited all people of good will to join the cause to defend the defenseless, to be a voice for those who are voiceless.

The survival of these historic Christian communities is not merely a moral imperative; it is in the interests of all nations and people of the West and the Middle East. Middle Eastern Christians “have long been an integral part of the social fabric, and have contributed, alongside Muslims, to the construction of the Arab civilization. They have had an especially formative role in promoting education, literacy, learning and health care,” which serve all people in the region.

At the inaugural Summit which is called by IDC for Middle East Christians, patriarchs, bishops and scholars from around the world called for a global effort to stop the extermination of Christianity from where its roots were planted 2,000 years ago.

Many people gathered from over 24 states and a dozen countries to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Christians of the Middle East. On Tuesday September 09, night, an ecumenical gathering of Christian leaders opened IDC’s three-day Inaugural Summit with a call for unity with all minorities of the Middle East. The heads of the major Churches of the Middle East—the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, the Maronite Patriarch, the Armenian Orthodox Catholicos, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch, the Syriac Catholic Patriarch, the Representative of the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch, the Representative of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, the Representative of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, the Representatives of the Assyrian Church of the East, and the representatives of the Protestant Churches—all came together to support Christians suffering across the region. It is the first gathering ever of the Eastern Patriarchs in the United States.

“If Christian voices are able to ring out as one from Egypt to Syria to Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, then we really do believe it will be possible for Middle Eastern Christians to survive,” said Andrew Doran, executive director of In Defense of Christians, which organized the conference.

For the first time in history, five Christian Patriarchs representing Christian communities in the Middle East visited the White House to discuss the protection of Christians in the Middle East with President Obama and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

In Defense of Christians President Toufic Baaklini said, “We want to thank President Obama at this critical moment in history for meeting with the representatives of these Christian communities from the Middle East who face suffering and hardship for professing their religious beliefs.”

Attending the meeting with the President are:
His Eminence, Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Raï
Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
His Beatitude, Gregorius III Laham
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem
His Holiness, Mor Ignatius Aphrem II
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
His Beatitude, Ignatius Youssef III Yonan
Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
His Beatitude, Aram I Keshishian
Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church
His Eminence the Most Reverend Metropolitan Joseph Al-Zehlaoui
Archbishop of New York and All North America of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church
(Official representative of His Beatitude Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch and all the East)
His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
(Official representative of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II,
Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria)
His Excellency Ibrahim, Ibrahim
Bishop Emeritus of Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle
(Official representative of His Beatitude Louis Rahphael Sako I
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church)


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The Western Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, providing spiritual guidance and leadership to the Syriac Orthodox community, is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization comprised of 18 churches and parishes in 17 western states. It was established in 1952 as the Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church encompassing the entire United States and Canada. In November 1995 by the Holy Synod, the Western Archdiocese was formed to exclusively serve the 17 states of the western half United States.

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