Leaders of Christian communities, churches, and denominations from all over the world gathered in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 17 to attend a meeting of the World Council of Churches that highlighted the challenges that believers have been facing in the last few years.
During the opening address for the WCC meeting on Friday, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem talked about the threats to the Christian presence in the Middle East. These include the rise of "price tag hate crime" against Christian sites and attacks targeting believers, The Jordan Times relayed.
"Over the last several months, we have seen a new level of threats to the stability of our multi-ethnic, mutli-cultural, mutli-religious community, with a number of attacks on religious groups, especially the Christian communities," said Patriarch Theophilos III.
In addition, the Orthodox leader discussed the land issue in Jerusalem and the alleged attempts of a "radical settler group" to take over the city's Christian areas. He called on the WWC to continue fighting for the freedom of Christian communities to exist in the face of these threats.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church in the U.S. told the publication that he was impressed with how Jordan's King Abdullah maintained his country's stability despite the volatility in the region. He also appreciated the safety that Christians in Jordan are enjoying.
While the WCC usually gathers in Geneva, the council's general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, said they chose to gather in Amman upon the invitation of the Patriarch. He said they were committed to efforts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine.
On Nov. 9, Muslim World League general secretary Dr. Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa visited the WCC in Geneva. During the meeting, the Islamic leader stressed the importance of defeating messages carrying hatred and extremism in order to obtain peace, Ecumenical News reported.
In response to Al-Issa's opening statement, Rev. Tveit affirmed religious leaders' calling to preserve the sanctity of human life and to show love and respect to everyone. The Muslim leader replied and urged cooperation between the two faiths to combat terrorism and violence through religious dialogue.