Decline of Christianity in Middle-East a 'catastrophe': Teule

Thrissur, Aug 13: Noted theologian Dr Horman Teule said on Monday that the decline of Christianity in the Middle-East was a 'catastrophe' and attributed it to demographic evolution, dictatorship and political instability. "Christians in the Middle-East are no longer interested in living there though the number of pilgrims visiting there has gone up considerably each year. The exodus is due to demographic evolution, dictatorship and political instability," he said.

Tuele, Professor, Middle Eastern Christianity at Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, was here to present a paper on 'Middle Eastern Christians in interaction with Islam' at an international symposium on Interfacing Islam and Christianity. "Many Christians, like many Muslims, are interested to leave Middle East. But Christians, because of their longer migration history, have easier access to Europe or the US than Muslims. Many already have families there to help them settle in the new countries and it is not the case for Muslims," he added.

Though there was occasional anti-Church violence, they were not sponsored by the government, but 'handiwork of criminals', he said, adding criminals and anti-social elements portrayed them as government sponsored to justify their mala-fide objectives. Tuele said Muslims generally are not against the Church and Christians in Middle East. Hence, one could not brand all anti-church activities there and in other Muslim dominated nations as attacks sponsored by those governments.

Tuele said Pope Benedict XVI will visit Lebanon next month as per the Global Bishops' Synod's decisions taken in Oct 2011. Resolutions and decisions at the Synod would be published during his visit with a view for cordial relations with Muslims globally and dialogues held with them. Focus would be on Christians' peaceful sustenance in Middle East, since it was the birthplace of Christianity, he added. The Muslims and the Christians should also recognise the spiritual faith and belief of other religions, Tuele said. He ruled out the possibility of a major international conflict between Muslims and Christians like 'The Crusade' though some people predicted it.


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