1 September 2015
Dear leaders of the world and people of good conscience,
I write to you from Jerusalem to address the very serious refugee situation affecting countries across the Middle East and now Europe. I myself am a refugee, as well as a bishop. Both my faith and my history oblige me to speak up for these women, men, and children who are washing up on beaches, are found decomposing in trucks on the highway, are crossing borders of barbed wire, and are barely surviving in makeshift camps.
The last weeks have seen not only an increase in the numbers of these refugees, but also an increase in tragic outcomes for many. This is a shameful situation, and one which the international community cannot ignore. It must be remembered that refugees are not vacationers. They did not leave their homes because they were looking for adventure. They are displaced as a result of poverty, violence, terror, and political conflict. Frustration and fear lead them to risk their lives and their life-savings in search of safe havens where they can live and raise families in peace. We must remember that these are not “waves” or “masses” or “hordes”—these are human beings who deserve dignity and respect.
As a refugee and as Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, I have two messages for world leaders:
For this reason, I urge all world leaders and people of good conscience to act quickly, for the sake of the humanity we share.
Bishop Dr. Munib Younan
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
LWF president Bishop Younan visits member church in Kazakhstan – Lutheran World Federation
It is with great pride and pleasure that Grand Master Patrick Rea makes reference to a recent article in the New York Times.
Visit Bethany Church on the Jordan for details of how to get involved.
On June 26, 2015 In Defense of Christians (IDC), NGO Headquartered in Washington D.C. thoughtfully informed OSMTH, among others, of the passing of His Beatitude Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX, Primate of the Armenian Catholic Church of Cilicia.
Thank you Mr. Chairperson,
This is a joint statement of 15 NGOs. We would like to draw the attention of the Council to the urgent need to address Climate Change from a human rights perspective. The HRC is the only international mechanism that has the competency to fully and comprehensively address the human suffering we are witnessing today, and that will increase in severity from now until at least 2030 or 2040 due to the effects of climate change.
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, The New York Times best-selling author of The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah, addressed the United Nations on Friday about the worsening persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Cahn, the senior rabbi at the Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, New Jersey, was invited along with other Jewish and Christian leaders, businessmen and high-ranking military officials, to speak at the conference entitled, "The Persecution of Christians Globally: A Threat to International Peace and Security." Here is the text of Cahn's speech:
It is April, 2015. Seventy years ago, this spring, the concentration camps of the Third Reich were liberated. In their liberation, the allies forced the nearby townsfolk to walk through the camps to face the unimaginable depths of horror that Nazism had led to. But for most of those who lived in those towns by the camps and, for that matter, throughout Germany, it was not unexpected. It was well-known that the Jews were being hunted down and taken in cattle cars to concentration camps where horror and likely death awaited them. They knew it, but did nothing to stop it. They themselves weren't in danger. Why should they have risked their comfort, their safety, their well-being for those who were? But when they walked through those camps in the spring of 1945 they were forced to not only to confront the evil of Hitler and the evil of Nazism—but the evil of their own. For in the end, it was their guilt that was the critical and decisive factor. Without their silent complicity, without their sin of omission and self-interest, the mass murder of six million Jewish men, women and children, could never have taken place. In 1964, in the city in which this gathering has convened, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was approaching her apartment door when she was attacked by a man wielding a knife. The young woman was brutalized over the course of approximately one half-hour. At least 12 people heard her screams or saw parts of the attack during those 30 minutes. But the majority did nothing to help her. Some weren't sure what the screams outside their closed windows were. But they never bothered to find out. It was cold outside and they were comfortable inside the warmth of their apartments. One neighbor, who actually saw the attack pondered whether he should even bother to ask another neighbor to call the police. His explanation, "I didn't want to get involved." As a result of the bystanders of this city, the life of Kitty Genovese was violently snuffed outside her apartment door. And now as we meet in the city of the bystanders of that crime, another crime is taking place outside our closed windows. Seventy years after the bystanders of Nazi Germany walked through the death camps of the holocaust, another stream of victims are being led to their deaths. Again it involves a satanic evil of hatred, violence, and sadistic cruelty. And again it involves an innocent people marked for destruction—the followers of Jesus, known throughout the world as "Christians," those who are taught, when struck, to turn the other cheek, when cursed, to bless, and when persecuted, to forgive those who oppress them. These constitute, by far, the most persecuted religious group on earth, oppressed, afflicted, hunted down and killed—men, women and children—the sacrificial lambs of the modern world. We meet in the world's most revered gathering place of nations. And as kings, leaders, ambassadors and delegates convene here to discuss international issues, within the borders of over 60 of those nations, Christians are being persecuted by their own governments or by those in whose midst they live—from North Korea, to Iran, to Afghanistan, to Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia, and many, many more. In North Korea, Christians are imprisoned, sent to labor camps, tortured, and killed, for the crime of owning a Bible. In Nigeria entire Christian village populations have been massacred. In Orissa India, 70,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes. In Syria, 80,000 Christians have been quote 'cleansed' from their homes." In Indonesia, Muslims have put 10,000 Christians to death. And now, after almost 2,000 years, some of the most ancient Christian communities, from the Copts of Egypt, to the Nestorians and Assyrian believers of Syria, to the Chaldean and Assyrian believers of Iraq are in danger of extermination, genocide. As the evil of Isis and its allies sweeps across the Middle East, an ancient civilization is being annihilated, its people perishing, crucified, decapitated and buried alive in their ancestral soil. The Vicar of Baghdad recounted this year how Isis ordered four Christian children to renounce Jesus and follow Mohammed. "No," they said, "We love Yeshua ... He has always been with us." These were the last words the children ever spoke on this earth as Isis beheaded them. We hear the accounts of the early Christians being led into Roman arenas to be torn apart by wild beasts. And we ponder how savage and barbaric those days were. We wonder what we would have done had we been there. If we had lived in those days and could have saved the lives of the innocent, would we have saved them? But the truth is we do live in those days. More Christians have been persecuted, brutalized and killed in the modern age, than in any other. Every year, tens of thousands of Christians are dehumanized, tortured or killed, and over 100 million Christians live under the darkness of persecution. It is the modern age that holds the most savage and barbaric of days. And what are we doing as Christians are being led away to be devoured? This very body, the United Nations, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares that everyone has the right to "manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance." In the World Summit Outcome Document of September 2005, paragraph 139, the United Nations declared that the international community has the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. So the question must be asked, 'Where are all the resolutions?' "Where are all the troops?' 'Where are all the actions taken to protect the most persecuted people on earth?' 'And where's the universal outcry?' It's a strange and immoral silence, the same strange and immoral silence that allowed 6 million Jews to be delivered to their deaths. We must not repeat the mistake of the last century. Evil never stays put. The same darkness that destroyed 6 million Jewish lives would end up destroying over 60 million lives throughout the world. The evil that first warred against the Jewish people was a harbinger of what would soon overcome the earth. In the days when coal miners were dying of black lung disease, an answer was found in the caged canary. The canary was brought deep into the mines. If it grew sick and died, it would be the sign and the alarm that the air inside the mine was toxic. What happened to the caged canary was a harbinger of danger. The persecuted Christian is the caged canary of the modern world. The Christian is the first target of evil, and so the sign and the alarm of a toxic evil in the world and a growing danger. And if we don't deal with that evil when it targets others on distant shores, we will surely deal with it when it targets us on our own shores. No civilization can call itself moral if it fails to defend its most defenseless against that which seeks to devour them. No nation can call itself good if it sits back and does nothing of effect as the forces of evil murder the innocent. And no people can call themselves "Christian" if they watch passively on the sidelines as those who share the name of Messiah are oppressed and killed for their faith. If our faith consists of how comfortable and prosperous God can make us in this world, as we deafen our ears to the cries of those who are in this world neither comfortable nor prosperous, our brothers and sisters imprisoned and tortured for their faith, how can we bear the name "Christian?" On the Day of Judgment we will be asked, "Why did you do nothing to save them?" And what will our answer be? It is written in the book of Hebrews, "Remember those who are in chains as in chains with them." So as we sit on our couches in front of our television sets in our air-conditioned homes, are we remembering our brothers who sit on the stone floors of prison camps as they suffer for their faith? They would say to us now, "Do not forget us in our suffering." "Remember us." "Remember us as our enemies come to take our lives." "Do not forget that we once lived and that we once gave our lives for our faith and His namesake." We cannot forget them. We must remember them. And we must help them. What would you do if in your neighborhood, a band of criminals had taken over the house next door and were holding your neighbors hostage? What if every day, they oppressed them, humiliated them, beat them, abused them, tortured them and began planning their deaths, father, mother and children? What if through your windows at night you could hear their muted screams for help, but did nothing? You didn't try to save them yourself. You didn't tell your other neighbors and gather them together to help. You didn't even bother to call the police. In the end, how would you be judged? The answer is unavoidable: You would be judged as guilty, as immoral; you would be judged as evil. And what if they didn't live next door, but down the block. What if they lived a town away, a nation away, or an ocean away? Would it make any difference? Does geography in any way alter or lessen the charge and requirement of morality? It does not. So if men, women and children, across the world are now being held captive, beaten, tortured and put in danger of death, and we know about it, if we hear their distant screams, but choose to do nothing, then how will we, in the end, be judged? We will be judged likewise as guilty and immoral. We will be judged as evil. It is written that on the Day of Judgment, we will be either upheld or condemned by the good or bad we did or did not do to God, to Messiah. And when we ask Him, "When was it that did we do good to You?" Or "When was it that we sinned against You?" He will answer, "When you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me." Therefore, if we refuse to get involved and help these, the least of His brothers, what are we doing? We are refusing to help the Messiah. If we turn a deaf ear to their cries, we are turning a deaf ear to the cries of the Messiah. And on that day, He will say to us, "When my village was burned down in Nigeria, why did you do nothing to help Me? When I was imprisoned inside a labor camp in North Korea, why did you forgot Me? When Isis came to kill my family, why did you not help us? And when I was tortured, when I was beheaded, when I was buried alive, when I was crucified, why did you ignore my cries for your help? Why did you let Me perish? Now depart from me, for I never knew you." When that day comes, let it not be said of us that we heard the cries of God and did nothing to help Him. In the time it takes us to hold this session more people will be brutalized, more lives snuffed out. If it was your family about to be destroyed, if it was your life about to be taken, if it was your little child about to be beheaded, and others could have helped but chose not to, what would you think? Then let us do the only right and moral thing we can do. As it is written in the Scriptures: "Deliver those who are being delivered to death." Do not go down in the annals of history and in the judgment of God as the bystander who saw the evil but did nothing to stop it, who heard the screams of the Kitty Genoveses of this world but chose to let them die outside your door, who watched the cattle cars deliver the innocent to their deaths but chose to stay silent. Do not be guilty of another holocaust. Open up your windows and hear their cries. Open up your doors and step outside your dwelling. Open up your heart and your life and do whatever you have to do to save them. Messiah is screaming! Messiah is being buried alive! Messiah is being beheaded. Messiah is being crucified ... again! Save Him! Save the Messiah! Deliver those who are being delivered to death! For God's sake ... do the right thing! Thank you.
Chev. Marston Watson, GCTJ, CMTJ, Editor General (OSMTH) The Grand Prior of Portugal in a report to the Grand Master, Brigadier General Patrick Rea, outlined a significant event that was a part of the Tomar OSMTH meeting in mid-April of 2015. Dr. António Andrade stated that His Excellency Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenez Belo, Nobel Laureate, accepted the Portuguese Templar Order of Merit award for his life time of humanitarian work in support of the people of East Timor. Grand Master Rea extended his praise to the Grand Prior of Portugal for his ability to arrange a Templar recognition for such an outstanding Catholic Christian leader, Bishop Ximenez Belo. A brief summary of the Bishops’ actions and accomplishments validate the wisdom of Dr. Andrade’s decision to arrange this Templar recognition. Pope John Paul II appointed Fr. Bello, shortly after he became bishop in 1983, as Apostolic Administrator of the Dili Diocese, becoming head of the East Timor church and spiritual leader of a territory that is primarily Catholic. He spoke openly against the brutalities of the Kraras massacre in 1983 and condemned the many Indonesian arrests. Fr. Belo was consecrated titular Bishop of Lorium in 1989. He wrote that year to the President of Portugal, Pope John Paul II, and the UN Secretary-General, calling for a United Nations referendum on the future of East Timor and for international help for the East Timorese. Bishop Belo denounced the brutal tactics and oppressive policies of the Indonesian government despite at least two attempts on his life in 1989 and 1991. He successfully campaigned for reforms in the military and the dismissal of two generals, following a massacre of peaceful demonstrators in Dili in 1991. Bishop Belo spear headed efforts which lead the way for East Timor’s independence in 2002. Bishop Ximenes Belo is no stranger to honors and awards. He was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1996, along with Dr. José Ramos-Horta who became President of Timor-Leste in 2007. He won the John Humphrey Freedom Award in 1995 from the Canadian human rights group, Rights and Democracy. The CEU Cardinal Herrera University awarded Bishop Belo an honorary doctorate in 2004. The MIL Movimento Internaciaonal Lusófono presented Dr. Belo its coveted prize for Lusophic Personality of the Year in 2011. Portuguese Timor was the name of East Timor when it was under Portuguese control (until 1975). Portugal shared the island of Timor with the Dutch East Indies during most of this period. Bishop Ximenez Belo, who now resides in Portugal, received this honor for his extraordinary humanitarian efforts on behalf of the East Timor people. He is the first non-Templar member to receive this prestigious award from the Grand Priory of Portugal.
20 April 2015
We witness once again a brutal act of ISIS against Christian people. Such barbaric acts call for our public denunciation, which is the policy of our Templar members (OSMTH). ISIS released a video in the last few days, which portrayed some thirty Ethiopian Orthodox Christians either shot or beheaded on a Libyan beach.
Read the complete press release
OSMTH Solidarity, deepest sympathy and sorrow with the Royal Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Read the full release...
by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom (Wednesday, December 31, 2014) 2014 has been a challenging year, demanding greater humanitarian assistance and advocacy for a variety of people across the world, and in many instances this has generated an immensely positive response from individuals and society as a whole. For that reason, while reflecting on the darkness of the tragedies that have been unfolding, we must also remember to give thanks for the light shining through the good works of faithful people in their response to them, some of whom have sadly paid the ultimate price. Through these occurrences the world has experienced an extremist narrative seeking the destruction of centuries-old communities. In response to this alarming development however, there have been greater unified efforts across the ecumenical and inter-religious spectrums to express solidarity with, advocate on behalf of, and provide much needed aid to, those suffering. Religious and civic leaders have been challenged to speak out against violations of basic human rights, and in many cases have responded to that call with a greater sense of responsibility and commitment. This response however, is still disproportionate to the suffering, destruction and devastation that has been experienced, and much remains to be done. It is increasingly difficult to provide hope with the backdrop of those who continue to suffer gross violations of their rights, and yet we are reminded, particularly at this time of the year, that through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the whole of humanity has been freely gifted with respect, love and peace through the message of Salvation. The global community is founded upon the safeguarding of fundamental principles of God-given freedom, liberty, and equality, and while many around the world are denied these rights, we who are free to enjoy them must advocate and do all we can to protect those same rights for them. We have an individual and collective responsibility towards our brothers and sisters, regardless of their religious affiliation, as every individual is entitled to live in peace, and with the freedom to choose and live his or her faith, as long as that does not impede on the choices of others. Our Lord Jesus Christ was born into adversity and poverty, and at an early age fled to, and sought asylum in, Egypt. His family fled from oppressive persecution, and He continued to live His life facing immense challenges and struggles in order that we may find comfort in His example and His victory over all that seeks to overcome us. Our Lord warned us that “in the world you will have tribulation,” but then immediately reassures us with His powerfully comforting words “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). When considering oppression on a global scale, or closer to home, we must remember that God bestowed basic human rights upon the whole of humanity, and where those rights are violated we must act, because we are reminded that “faith [in this principle] without works is dead” (James 2:26). We should take the opportunity at the beginning of this New Year to consider how we as individuals and communities can positively impact the lives of those around us, beginning with correcting those things within ourselves that may cause pain to others. I wish you all the blessings of the Feast of the holy Nativity, and a New Year filled with good health, success and joy in all that it is dear. +Angaelos General Bishop Coptic Orthodox Church United Kingdom
We the members of the Knights Templar OSMTH welcome and embrace the message of HG Bishop Angaelos as we did his outstanding presentation made in the fall of 2014 in Washington, DC. It is our sincere plan to continue to support him and the historic Coptic Christians throughout the world. I trust that in 2015 we will develop new ways to strengthen our ecumenical mission to His Grace. Very best for a Happy & Healthy New Year, Patrick Rea Brigadier General—US Army (Ret) Grand Master, OSMTH
Work is under way in Jordan to kick off an initiative to promote mutual respect among religions and disseminate a culture of dialogue and tolerance across the region, organisers said. RELATED ARTICLES • Jordan's Muslims, Christians unite against extremism • Jordan teaches tolerance at Islamic summer schools • Social networking websites leaving imprint on Jordanian society Organised by the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre -- a group founded by government representatives and Christian and Muslim leaders to call for peace and coexistence -- the Karama (Dignity) initiative is set to start in January, they said. Karama "seeks to confront hatred, strengthen the culture of dialogue and the Christian-Arab presence, and emphasise the importance of the religious pulpit in this regard", Rev. Nabil Haddad, the centre's executive director and founder, said at a press conference in mid-October. "The pulpit is one of the most successful means to entrench dialogue, religious coexistence and acceptance of others among people of the same society," he said. The initiative, which will bring in representatives from across the Arab world and a slew of religious and cultural institutions including Al-Azhar, will feature lectures, seminars and workshops by religious scholars and academics. It will kick off with a two-day conference in January and include activities such as sit-ins and gatherings to promote peace and interfaith dialogue. Rev. Haddad said it was crucial to confront extremist ideologies in the region via collective action and by rewarding the voices of moderation and coexistence. "Jordan is a leader and engine of [moderation and coexistence] owing to its distinguished record which affirms its respect for all components of society," he said. Combating extremism Jordanian Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs spokesman Ahmed Ezzat said his ministry backs the Karama initiative, which focuses on promoting the noble values of each religion. The ministry constantly works to support such efforts as well as educational campaigns conducted at Qur'an learning centres that raise awareness about the principles of moderation, he told Al-Shorfa. Hassan Karirah, director of preaching and guidance at the ministry, described Karama and the ministry's support for the centre and other similar activities as crucial. The ministry supports efforts to "promote the values of tolerance and introduce the Amman Message" -- a message released by King Abdullah in 2004 calling for peace and tolerance in the Muslim world, he said. This message affirms the true image of Islam, which calls for moderation and acceptance of others, he added. The ministry, in collaboration with churches and other religious centres, also has begun preparing for numerous events to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is scheduled for February, he said. Karirah said the ministry, in the context of its support for the Karama initiative, is guiding imams to focus in their sermons on the true image of Islam, on promoting moderation, and on rejecting extremism, fanaticism and terrorism. Academic and sociologist Hussein Khuzaie said Jordan has distinguished itself in the region in terms of religious coexistence among Muslims and Christians. Implementing this initiative helps increase awareness among members of the community and stresses rejection of extremism and terrorism, he told Al-Shorfa. There is a pressing need for such initiatives, Khuzaie said, particularly in light of the current situation in the region and emergence of groups that could draw youth to extremist views.
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