Marat Musin of the news agency ANNA News has recorded a conversation with Father Maximos, an Orthodox priest from the Syrian city of Homs.
In light of the recently published reports of the desecration of Christian holy places by various armed gangs, this is currently very topical on the one hand; on the other hand, it is also quite surprisingly neutral, peaceful and conciliatory in content.
This is a clear indication that the religious or sectarian component that some want to teach in some media in addition to the riots in Syria (Alawites and Shiites vs. Sunnis, and so on…), is an influence from the outside and it is also a game with baser instincts.
The Russian-language video interview of ANNA-News is below; initially the translation of the content:
Father Maximus, head of the Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God:
We represent the Christians of the city of Homs, which is an ancient city and a center of Orthodoxy. There are a number of old churches in our community, like that of the Holy Prophet Elias, the Church of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste and the Um az-Zunar Church (Um Al-Zunar Church – “Church of the Mother of the Belt” – in this church, there is a Belt as relict, which was the property of the Mother of God – apxwn).
These three churches are located in Al Hameediye (district of Homs). Our church of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God is a new church, which was built in 1967, with the help of Alexei I. (Alexy I. / Alexji I.),the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.
We have a memorial plaque here, which is reminiscent of this. Also our Father Alexander, who studied and graduated in Russia, was involved in the construction of this church.
We have two icons here – one represents the holy Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia Alexey II (+1378), which is also the patron saint of our priest, who has helped to build this church; the second icon represents the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky (+1263) is, who is the patron saint of Patriarch Alexis I.. Our church is a simple one and actually an example of modern church architecture.
I want to talk about the churches and Christians in Al Hameediye, where the battles are taking place currently; and unfortunately, the Christians of this district had to flee from their homes already some months ago.
Now there are still about 120 people who have remained there. There are currently efforts to evacuate them from there.
Unfortunately, the church buildings were also taken under fire and they are in a deplorable state, for example, the church of St. George, which was built by the Russians, is completely destroyed – the church was 170 years old.
In the Um-Az-Zunar church (Um Al-Zunar church), the dome has collapsed, the church was built many centuries ago, the church is older than 1,000 years. Our Hasanid Orthodox schools – five in number, which were also built with the help of the Russians in the 18th Century, are almost completely destroyed. I hope that the warring parties are able to agree among themselves by means of negotiations, and that they can reach a peace agreement and it is possible to evacuate people.
Finally, I would say to the Russian Church and the Russian people: please do not forget us in this crisis, support us in many directions, not only the Orthodox Church, not only the Christians of Syria, but also all over Syria so that it will be a good and wide-hearted country again, which embraces all – both Christians and Muslims, just as it’s always been. (Note: before the beginning of the so-called “uprising”)
May God give it, that this crisis will pass by like a bad dream. I ask Russia – the Russian state and the Orthodox Church – that they stand side by side with the Syrian people and help us that we can return to our churches and homes, so that we remain witnesses of the Word of God in our country.