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Mideast: Christians in danger, Patriarch Gregory III warns Pope Francis

last update: March 19, 15:50

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Rome, 19 March (AKI) - Christian minorities in the Middle East are under threat, especially in conflict-wracked Syria, the Patriarch of the Church of Antioch has warned Pope Francis, Adnkronos International (AKI) has learned.

"The crises in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, are endangering Christians present in the region," Patriarch Gregory III Laham told AKI, quoting a letter he said he has written to Francis.

"Interfaith dialogue and coexistence between Islam and Christianity are also in jeopardy," he said.

Francis is an expert on the situation in the Middle East and "God willing" will put the region's problems high on his list of priorities," the patriarch stated.

Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was enthroned as Pope Francis on Tuesday after being elected pontiff in a conclave of cardinals last week to replace 85-year-old Benedict XVI who abdicated in February on health grounds.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio was responsible for the Catholic community in the Middle East and was a point of contact for emigres from Lebanon, Syria and all the countries in that region.

"I hope that the Pope will ensure a better future for all Arab countries and their peoples," concluded the Syrian-born patriarch, who is also the spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

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