I will speak of the history and current plight of a number of Christian churches which originated, grew, and flourished in what we call the Middle East almost two thousand years ago. In addition to the great Apostolic cradles of Christianity in the Mediterranean, in particular Alexandria, Antioch and Rome, it should be said that there were already Christians in the Holy Land, in Syria and Egypt by thebeginning of the second century; there was a Bible translated into Syriac1; and there was a flourishing Greek and Coptic church in Egypt.

I will speak of a dramatic situation of suffering, persecution, destruction and death. A situation which for a considerable period of time has involved the suffering and death of many people, not only that of journalists seen in powerful internet images, but of men, women and children. A situation which is bringing about the systematic destruction of 2,000 years of literary, artistic and cultural heritage.

P. Manuel Nin