“The Middle East is being emptied of its Christians,” lamented the Maronite bishops gathered in a meeting from June 10-15, 2019 at the patriarchal headquarters in Bkerke, northeast of Beirut, Lebanon. With the exception of Lebanon, the other countries in the region are experiencing a “hemorrhaging” of Christians.
For example, Christians in Syria accounted for about 15% of the country’s population in 1905, and they were still 10% before the beginning of the conflict in 2011. They are only 2% today. The city of Aleppo numbered some 400,000 Christians before the war, and there are barely 40,000 left.
The causes of this exodus are, of course, “war, insecurity, economic need, and ideological pressures.” In its final communiqué issued on June 15, 2019, the Maronite Patriarchal Church of Antioch announced the “grave signals” emitted by the Maronite bishops of Syria, Jordan, the Holy Land, Egypt, and Cyprus, speaking of “an accumulation of crises.” According to a bishop quoted by the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour, “there is no one left in Aleppo, in Damascus, in the Holy Land, in Cyprus. Well, there are some in Latakia, Syria, but it is small compensation….”