A leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, "asked Mr. Putin to promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East.
“So it will be,” Mr. Putin said. “There is no doubt at all.”
Michael Hoffman’s note: While the New York Times article below is not as biased as some media reports which completely ignore the Christian victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the “insurgency" inside Syria, the Times still insinuates its moral superiority over Russia Christian leaders who dare to visit Syria. No similar New York Times disdain is exhibited when religious leaders visit the Israeli state while it is carpet-bombing downtown Beirut or blasting civilians in Gaza with white phosphorus. So, while more subtle than some, the Times article nevertheless puts forth the usual Zionist insinuation that muscular Christians are moral lepers.
When Christianity is allied to a modern nuclear state like Russia, the way Judaism is linked to the Israeli state and the American government, it is grounds for relentless attack by the plutocracy and mediacracy. This is what Russia is experiencing now.
Christians in Iraq were decimated by the American “liberation” of their country. The Neocons don’t care about Iraqi Christians any more than they care about the fate of Christians in Syria. The Zionist media paint Syrian government actions against enemies in terms far more graphic and gruesome than they have ever depicted Israeli atrocities against Palestinians and the people of Lebanon.
The Zionist objective is to undermine all governments of the West that may have a true Christian orientation, while safeguarding, with nuclear war if necessary, the absolute suzerainty of Judaism over Palestine.
Russian Church Is a Strong Voice Opposing Intervention in Syria
By Ellen Barry | May 31, 2012 | New York Times
MOSCOW — As the West sought to pressure the Kremlin recently to help stop the killing in Syria, diplomats from Damascus were ushered into the heart of one of Russian Orthodoxy’s main shrines.
Opening an exhibition devoted to Syrian Christianity in a cathedral near the Kremlin, they commiserated with Russian priests and theologians about their shared anxiety: What would happen if Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was forced from power?
It is clear by now that Russia’s government has dug in against outside intervention in Syria, its longtime partner and last firm foothold in the Middle East. Less well known is the position taken by the Russian Orthodox Church, which fears that Christian minorities, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.
In his warnings, Patriarch Kirill I invokes Bolshevik persecution still fresh in the Russian imagination, writing of “the carcasses of defiled churches still remaining in our country.”
This argument for supporting sitting leaders has reached a peak around Syria, whose minority population of Christians, about 10 percent, has been reluctant to join the Sunni Muslim opposition against Mr. Assad, fearing persecution at those same hands if he were to fall. If the church’s advocacy cannot be said to guide Russia’s policy, it is one of the factors that make compromise with the West so elusive, especially at a time of domestic political uncertainty for the Kremlin.
“Someone once said George Soros was the only American citizen who has his own foreign policy,” said Andrei Zolotov Jr., a leading religion writer and chief editor of Russia Profile. “Well, the Moscow patriarchate is the only Russian entity with its own foreign policy.”
Three and a half months ago, intent on achieving a commanding win in presidential elections, Vladimir V. Putin sought support from Russia’s religious leaders, pledging tens of millions of dollars to reconstruct places of worship and state financing for religious schools.
But Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the patriarchate’s department of external church relations, did not ask for money. The issue of “Christianophobia” shot to the top of the church’s agenda a year ago, with a statement warning that “they are killing our brothers and sisters, driving them from their homes, separating them from their near and dear, stripping them of the right to confess their religious beliefs.” The metropolitan asked Mr. Putin to promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East.
“So it will be,” Mr. Putin said. “There is no doubt at all.”
The request was one that plunged deep into geopolitics, since Christian minorities are aligned with several of the governments that have faced popular uprisings. The statements on “Christianophobia” amount to a denunciation of Western intervention, especially in Egypt and Iraq, which lost two-thirds of its 1.5 million Christians after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Western analysts acknowledge the dangers faced by Christians in Syria, but say the church would be wise to distance itself from the Assad government and prepare for a political transition.
“What we see now in Syria is systemic failure — it’s brutal, it’s now an insurgency — but in the end it’s just systemic failure,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Syria. “If the Christian population and those that support it want a long-term future in the region, they’re going to have to accept that hitching their wagon to this brutal killing machine doesn’t have a long-term future.”
The Russian Orthodox Church regularly meets with the Russian Foreign Ministry to discuss its agenda outside Russia’s borders, and is seen by most experts as eager to render support to the Kremlin.
Still, there have been moments when the church’s foreign policy aims appeared distinct. In 2009, just as President Dmitri A. Medvedev publicly blasted his counterpart in Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovich, Patriarch Kirill published a note thanking Mr. Yanukovich for his hospitality on a visit, Mr. Zolotov said.
Tension was also apparent surrounding Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Damascus late last year, which was delayed repeatedly and planned under conditions of high secrecy, Mr. Zolotov said. By that point, the United Nations estimated that 3,500 people had been killed as government forces tried to put down the uprising, and the Arab League had suspended Syria’s membership in an attempt to increase diplomatic pressure.
Metropolitan Hilarion said that "some analysts tried to dissuade the patriarch from going, saying that there is disorder in Syria, that the Assad regime is in international isolation and under great pressure." "But the patriarch never stops in the face of difficulties, and expressing solidarity to Ignatius, the Patriarch of Antioch, whom he has known for more than 40 years, was important right now," the metropolitan said, in an interview posted on a church Web site. He also said that "any interpretation of the patriarch's visit to Syria as support for the Assad regime is totally unfounded." Nevertheless, photos of the patriarch's street procession alongside his Syrian counterpart showed the men flanked by people holding aloft Mr. Assad's portrait. The patriarch made a sympathetic appearance with Mr. Assad, praising Syria's treatment of Christians and making no mention of the mounting death toll. Maksim Shevchenko, a journalist and television host who specializes in religious affairs, said the patriarch's visit represented a turning point. "It strengthened the Russian position on Syria," Mr. Shevchenko said. "He's such an influential figure. Imagine the influence of someone like Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham on the position of Ronald Reagan."
The Rev. Nikolai Balashov, deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department of external church relations, said the visit had succeeded in focusing Russia’s attention on Syria, overcoming what he called an “information blockade” of one-sided coverage of the conflict in the world’s top news media outlets. He went on to say that recent turmoil in the Middle East had made it more important for the church to involve itself directly in foreign affairs.
“Only bloody chaos will result from shortsighted attempts to plant, in a biblical region, political models from a different civilizational matrix, without taking into account the worldview and values that have shaped peoples’ lives for centuries and millennia,” he said. “Forming foreign policy without accounting for the religious factor could lead to a catastrophe, to the deaths of thousands and millions.”
Usama Matar, an optometrist who has lived in Russia since 1983, said he did not harbor any illusions about Russia’s motives for defending Syrian Christians like himself, whom he called “small coins in a big game.” But he said there were few international players taking notice of Eastern Christians at all.
“The West is pursuing its own interests; they are indifferent to our fate,” he said. “I am not justifying the Assad regime — it is dictatorial, we know this, it is despotic, I understand. But these guys, they don’t even hide their intention to build an Islamic state and their methods of battle, where they just execute people on the streets. That’s the opposition, not just the authorities. And we are between two fires.”