CWN - Syria’s leading Catholic prelate has voiced misgivings about refugee programs that are helping Christian families from Syria resettle in the West, saying that it is better if they remain in the Middle East.

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, who doubles as president of the Syrian bishops’ conference, said that the flight of Syrian refugees threatens to aggravate the overall exodus of Christians from the Middle East. “The danger is that if they leave the Middle East, they will never go back,” he said.

The Melkite Patriarch said that he could readily sympathize with the Christians who choose to leave the region. “Of course, we cannot decide for ourselves what response our people should make,” he acknowledged, adding that “the suffering is great.”

However, Patriarch Gregory suggested that aid programs should concentrate on helping people to remain near their homes. “It is better to help the people within the country or the region, and not invite them to go outside,” he said. “There is more that can be done locally,” he said.

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Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Today is the prelude of the goodwill of God * and the heralding of the salvation of mankind; * the Virgin appears clearly in the temple of God * and foretells Christ to all. * Let us also with a mighty voice cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s divine plan.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The most pure Temple of the Savior, * the most precious Bridal-Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasury of the glory of God, * is brought today into the house of the Lord, * bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. * The angels of God praise her in song: * “She is the heavenly tabernacle.” (Kontakion - Tone 4)

(November 21st)