Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Great Lent Week 4
Volume 7 No. 403 March 17, 2017

III. General Weekly Features

HH Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, Speaks on the Future of Christians in the Middle East

By Bar Daisan

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, Universal Syriac Orthodox Church
HH Ignatius Aphrem II
Patriarch of the Antioch and All The East
Universal Syriac Orthodox Church

The future of Christians in the Middle East was the subject of a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference, held on 17-19 of February. The panel discussion was organized by the HannsSeidel Foundation. The title of the discussion was, "What future do Christians have in the Middle East?" The main focus was on the situation of the churches in Syria and Iraq.

The panel was chaired by Professor Ursula Männle, Minister of State (ret.). Speakers included Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of Syriac-Orthodox Church, Dr. H.C. Heiner Bielefeldt, formerly UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom and Belief, Dr. FranzJosef Jung, Commissioner for Churches and Religious Issues of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group and former Defense Minister, Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Archbishop of Mosul, and Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, Chairman of Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq (CAPNI) of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Professor Männle said that the humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East is the largest we face since World War II and Christians are particularly targeted; they are at the verge of losing not only their homeland but also their identity. She pointed to statistics of people impacted in both Syria and Iraq. "We must not make ourselves complicit in the ongoing Christocide by abstaining; we cannot and will not allow Eastern Christianity to be extinguished. To cope with the crisis in the Middle East and thus improve the situation for the Christians in the Middle East, it needs the influence of all European countries in close relationship with the USA."

The session was moderated by H.E. Dr. Heinrich Kreft, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Prof. Heiner Bielefeldt noted that human rights are nowhere violated as dramatically as in Syria and Iraq, and asked for the public "outcry instead of a private anxiety." Dr. Franz-Josef Jung saw a duty of the West in the fact as its Christian cultural imprint demands more European commitment in the region. Archbishop of Mosul, Nicodemus Sharaf, described the catastrophic situation on the ground and placed a particular focus on the hopeless situation of the refugees in northern Iraq while blaming the West for failing to create a "safe zone" for the Assyrians in the Nineveh Plains. Archimandrite Youkhana pleaded to give hope to Christians in the Middle East so that they could stay in their homeland. "Christian presence is needed in the Middle East," he said. Everywhere walls were built, while the Christians built bridges between the various groups. They were often helpless, but never hopeless. With this event, "the Hanns-Seidel Foundation has once again given voice to the persecuted Christians in the Middle East in the circle of world leaders."

In his speech, Patriarch Aphrem II issued an urgent call for support of the Christians in Syria and Iraq. He stressed that they need to stay in their homeland to secure Christian identity and presence in a country where Christianity emerged while they need support and require protection from an ongoing genocide, which aims to erase the Christian presence in the Middle East.

The Patriarch described the current situation and living conditions of the Christians in Iraq and Syria. The hopeless situation, as he said, is reason for many Christians to migrate. Hence, the Christians' presence is dwindling.

Below are excerpts of the Patriarch's remarks.

Shlomo, this means peace in Aramaic and that is how we greet each other and that is what we are missing in our life these days. Thank you Hanns-Seidel Stifung Foundation for the opportunity to raise our voice; we have been ignored for some time as Christians in the Middle East and we welcome every opportunity to be heard. We are here because there is always peace to be sought and to be achieved. The Syrian conflict should be settled in a peaceful manner. Violence only brings on more violence, as Pope Francis said.

The war in Syria is not a civil war. What we suffer from in Syria and Iraq cannot be called a civil war. However, it is [a conflict] due to religious fanaticism and extremism. This is sweeping over the entire region and extending out of the borders of the Middle East,  crossing into Europe and the entire world.

About a 100 years ago we suffered horrible genocide in the Middle East; it didn't stop in 1915 or 1918; it continues to this day.

Not only Christians are dying, but what is happening is genocide. Populations are being uprooted, forced to leave their home, Churches are being destroyed, clergy is killed and bishops are being kidnapped. Both Orthodox archbishops from Aleppo were kidnapped by ISIS on April 22nd, 2013. Not much is known about them since then. What's happening in the Middle East are not cases [of violence] against individuals but is an organized effort to wipe out Christianity from the Middle East. This will happen if we do not stand up and demand an end to this.

Statistics are very alarming in Syria, Iraq, but also in Turkey and in the Holy Land. Christians are leaving the region at an alarming rate. We want you to help us stop that, we appreciate Germany's generosity to help the refugees but we want you to help us keep Christians in the Middle East. We lived there for 2000 years as Christians and many millennia before that as indigenous people of the region. We are not guests there, we received many people into our homeland [Mesopotamia and Syria], and we lived with others, interacted peacefully with them, and learned how to make them accept us.

Now, ideologies of extremism, like Wahhabism and Muslim Brotherhood, have made living conditions very difficult for Christians, have destroyed the peaceful living of various religious groups in the Middle East and Syria -- along with the international attempt to enforce "regime change" in Syria. We are scared if the secular governments were to be overturned and Muslim Brotherhood or Wahhabism takes over.

The Syrian Regime is not the best; it has its shortcomings. The legitimate secular Syrian Government treats us based on our humanity and citizenship - not our religion. If a religious regime is established in Syria that will be the end of Christianity! What we need from the international community is to help us to stay in the Middle East.

We need good relations with our neighbors. We need a strong government and security. We need to be able to continue living with our millennia old traditions and be able to practice our religion freely. We want to be heard, having support and prayers is important but we also want to have groups that advocate for us. People need to feel secure about returning to their homes.

Humanitarian Aid

Churches are overwhelmed with the humanitarian services they are providing to locals in the northeast region of Syria: food, settlement for displaced families, education, health services and even major surgeries. [Generally] in the field of humanitarian aid, Churches are taking a government role, providing help, education, food, health care, housing and settlements for the displaced, all in government controlled areas.

There are many people who are helping us, but very little of the 2.5 Billion Euro provided by Germany reaches Christians. Here, we are again discriminated. Why are we discriminated?

As an exception, the German Ministry for Development has cooperated with us, is helping people through the churches. [Western] Governments should not feel reluctant to help Christians. The churches in Syria, in Damascus and other parts of the country help everyone, not just Christians. Many organizations and governments feel to separate state and religion when providing aid and charity, but that shouldn't be the case here. Majority of those that the churches are helping are Muslim people. This is part of our Christian mission.


Our people [Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs] lived mostly in northern Iraq, in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plains. Baghdad had [prior to the war] 60,000 Syriac-Orthodox believers. This number is down to 6,000 now.

People need to feel secure before they can return to their homes. We need security and I would like to propose a step further: We believe there is an opportunity for the Christians to settle in a designated area as "safe haven" with international support, at least initially until they can protect themselves. Iraqi government discussed this matter and it was suggested that the Nineveh [Plains] region should be designated as Christian region. Even the former president Jalal Talabani supported the idea. This is not against the unity of Iraq; the latter is not there unfortunately. This will give our people some security and identity. It will give those who live abroad the feeling that they can go back to their ancestral roots.


What we need is Syria is a strong government; we need respect to all groups in the country. Christians are [often] accused of being loyal to the regime -- yes we are loyal to the legitimate regime. This derives from our religion. We are loyal to our country, to our ancestral homeland and the legitimate Syrian government but not loyal to a person.

I heard some remarks that Christians are fleeing because of the persecution by the regime. I want to correct this.

Christians are not fleeing because of the regime; Herewith I am not defending the regime. Our people left Raqqa, Deyr-al-Zor, Hasaka to come to areas controlled by the regime. Christians cannot go to areas controlled by Al-Nusra, Daesh (ISIS) and other [extremist] groups. If they do, they are held hostages, kept as dhimmis and pay taxes for protection.

Final Thoughts

Two years ago we, five Patriarchs [from the Middle East], were meeting with President Obama in the White House. With respect to Syria, Obama said "You Christians are protected by the regime". Talking further, Obama said also that "there is nothing called moderate opposition", this is a fantasy. Now we are told again, that there is "moderate opposition" in Syria.

Transcribed by Sarah Abed
[This article was edited to correct errors in transcription.]

Source: Assyrian International News Agency © 2017 Assyrian International News Agency

Recipe: Coral Tree Cafe Vegetable Soup

By Noelle Carter, LA Times

This recipe may come especially handy during the Great Lent.


2 tablespoons oil
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced onions
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup pearl barley
1 quart vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce
2 cups quartered mushrooms
2 cups diced zucchini
Salt and pepper



Heat a medium, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat until hot. Add the oil, then add the carrots, onions, bell pepper, thyme and barley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden-brown, about 18 minutes, taking care that the barley does not burn.


Stir in the vegetable broth and marinara. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.


Cook until the barley is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and zucchini, and season to taste with salt and pepper (the amount of seasoning needed will vary depending on the vegetable broth and marinara used). Cover and continue to simmer until the mushrooms and zucchini are just tender, 4 to 6 minutes.


Remove from heat, thin if desired, and season again to taste, and serve. This makes about 2 1/2 quarts of soup.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutrition Information Per serving:

155 calories;
4 grams protein;
26 grams carbohydrates;
6 grams fiber;
4 grams fat;
1 gram saturated fat;
1 mg cholesterol;
8 grams sugar;
365 mg sodium.

Note: Adapted from Coral Tree Cafe in Los Angeles.

Source: LA Times, Coral Tree Cafe

Recipe: Breakfast That Tastes Like Carrot Cake - Baked Oatmeal

By Ellie Krieger

Breakfast on a hectic weekday morning has a lot to accomplish. It needs to be compellingly delicious, energizing, nourishing and convenient. This dish checks all those boxes, and then some.

Baked oatmeal of any variety turns basic rolled oats into a heavenly bread-pudding-like dish by marrying them with milk, egg, some leavening and sweet, fragrant seasonings such as cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup, and cooking it all in the oven.

The accompanying recipe's flavor inspiration comes from the iconic Morning Glory Muffin, which brings carrot-cake appeal to the picture with shredded carrots, coconut, pecans, raisins and apples.

This truly glorious combination of tastes and textures alone makes it a breakfast worth waking up for, but the ingredients also provide plenty of the nutrition you need to fuel your morning. And because this dish can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several days, then reheated in the microwave a portion at a time, it is incredibly convenient as well. Whip it up in the evening or during the weekend, when you have a little extra time, for something to look forward to on those busy weekdays.



• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
• 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or instant)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 cups low-fat milk (1 percent)
• 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 large egg
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 medium Golden Delicious apple (unpeeled), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
• 1 or 2 medium carrots, scrubbed well, then shredded (1 cup)
• 1/2 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 deg C). Grease an 8-inch square baking dish or a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking oil spray.

Mix together 1/2 cup of the pecans, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, the brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.

Stir together the oats, baking powder, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl.

Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, oil and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.

Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture, stirring to combine, then mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans and the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut, plus the apple, carrots and raisins.

Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the pecan-coconut mixture. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden at the edges and just set at the center. Serve warm.


The baked oatmeal can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Cover with foil and reheat in a 350-degreeF (175 deg C) oven for 20 minutes, or microwave individual portions on HIGH for 1 minute.

Yield: 8 servings (makes about 8 cups)

Nutrition Information

Per serving:
340 calories,
8 g protein,
41 g carbohydrates,
18 g fat,
4 g saturated fat,
25 mg cholesterol,
280 mg sodium,
5 g dietary fiber,
23 g sugar

Editor's Note: Krieger's most recent cookbook is "Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

Source: Jewish World Review

Family Special: The Gift of Sex - Explaining Sex To Your Children

by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

You father's blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains. - Genesis 49:26

The Lord gave us the holy gift of physical intimacy as a means for expressing love between husband and wife. We are told that when a man and wife unite in marriage, they become "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Solomon's Song of Songs clearly celebrates sexual pleasure between married lovers. In today's immoral culture, however, that purpose has been twisted. Sexual "freedom" is preached with evangelistic fervor. A motel marquee suggests to its patrons, "Have your next affair with us." Premarital virginity and marital fidelity are portrayed as outdated concepts. In this warped atmosphere, how can parents instill healthy attitudes toward the gift of sexual intimacy?

You can start by taking a leadership role. Gradually introduce your kids to God's plan for sex, beginning at age three or four and ending shortly before puberty. Let your kids' questions be a guide to how much you should reveal. And if they don't ask, don't wait for someone else to fill in the blanks. When our son, Ryan, showed no interest in the subject of sex, I (JCD) finally took him on a fishing trip and suggested we discuss "how babies are made and all that." Ryan said, "What if I don't wanna know?" I dragged him kicking and screaming into the world of adult sexuality.

We are told to "Train a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6). That means we are to teach our children about all of God's gifts and truths-including His wonderful gift of sex-when the timing is right.

Before you say good night…

  • How much do your children know about sex?
  • What are you doing to counteract immoral sexual messages?

Heavenly Father, we ask You to help us raise our children with the love You inspire, the reverence You intend, and the attitudes You desire for each of us toward the unique blessing of sexual intimacy. Amen.

From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Family Special: What Are The Skills Every 18-year-old Needs?

by Julie Lythcott-Haims

1. An 18-year-old must be able to talk to strangers - faculty, deans, advisers, landlords, store clerks, human resource managers, coworkers, bank tellers, health care providers, bus drivers, mechanics - in the real world.

The crutch: We teach kids not to talk to strangers instead of teaching the more nuanced skill of how to discern the few bad strangers from the mostly good ones. Thus, kids end up not knowing how to approach strangers - respectfully and with eye contact - for the help, guidance, and direction they will need out in the world.

2. An 18-year-old must be able to find his way around a campus, the town in which his/her summer internship is located, or the city where he is working or studying abroad.

The crutch: We drive or accompany our children everywhere, even when a bus, their bicycle, or their own feet could get them there; thus, kids don't know the route for getting from here to there, how to cope with transportation options and snafus, when and how to fill the car with gas, or how to make and execute transportation plans.

3. An eighteen-year-old must be able to manage his assignments, workload, and deadlines.

The crutch: We remind kids when their homework is due and when to do it - sometimes helping them do it, sometimes doing it for them; thus, kids don't know how to prioritize tasks, manage workload, or meet deadlines, without regular reminders.

4. An 18-year-old must be able to contribute to the running of a house hold.

The crutch: We don't ask them to help much around the house because the checklisted childhood leaves little time in the day for anything aside from academic and extracurricular work; thus, kids don't know how to look after their own needs, respect the needs of others, or do their fair share for the good of the whole.

5. An 18-year-old must be able to handle interpersonal problems.

The crutch: We step in to solve misunderstandings and soothe hurt feelings for them; thus, kids don't know how to cope with and resolve conflicts without our intervention.

6. An 18-year-old must be able to cope with ups and downs of courses and workloads, college- level work, competition, tough teachers, bosses, and others.

The crutch: We step in when things get hard, finish the task, extend the deadline, and talk to the adults; thus, kids don't know that in the normal course of life things won't always go their way, and that they'll be okay regardless.

7. An 18-year-old must be able to earn and manage money.

The crutch: They don't hold part-time jobs; they receive money from us for what ever they want or need; thus, kids don't develop a sense of responsibility for completing job tasks, accountability to a boss who doesn't inherently love them, or an appreciation for the cost of things and how to manage money.

8. An 18-year-old must be able to take risks.

The crutch: We've laid out their entire path for them and have avoided all pitfalls or prevented all stumbles for them; thus, kids don't develop the wise understanding that success comes only after trying and failing and trying again (a.k.a. "grit") or the thick skin (a.k.a. "resilience") that comes from coping when things have gone wrong.

Remember: Our kids must be able to do all of these things without resorting to calling a parent on the phone. If they're calling us to ask how, they do not have the life skills.

Source: Excerpted from Julie Lythcott-Haims' book 'How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success' (Henry Holt & Co., 2015)]

About The Author:

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of NYT bestseller, 'How to Raise an Adult'. She is a  former dean of Stanford University.

Life Lessons: Eleven Mind Blowing Facts About Warren Buffett And His Fortune

By Amy Lamare

Warren Buffett is often called the Oracle of Omaha and with good cause! His $65 billion fortune makes him the third richest person in the world, behind his good friend Bill Gates and Zara founder Amancio Ortega.

There are many legends surrounding Buffett and his amazing fortune. He started following the stock market when he was 11 years old. He eats a diet filled with soda and junk food and his net worth is greater than the GDP of the entire country of Uruguay. He still lives in the relatively modest home he bought decades ago. Suffice it to say, Buffett is a bit of a character and a loveable one at that.

Inspired by the legends and lore surrounding Warren Buffett and his fortune, we've rounded up 11 Mind Blowing Facts about the Oracle of Omaha.

#11. When you were in elementary school what did you want to be? A teacher? A baseball player? Not the budding Oracle of Omaha. When he was 10 years old he was having lunch with someone from the New York Stock Exchange and setting his goals for his entire life. After that lunch, young Buffett knew that he wanted his life to revolve around money. A year later, when he was 11 years old, he bought his first stock.

#10. By the time Buffett was a teenager, he was making around $175 a month. For perspective, that was more money than his teachers made, and, in fact, more than most adults made in that day and age. He was a paperboy delivering the Washington Post, but he also sold stamps, had a pinball machine business, sold used golf balls, and turned a former horse track into a playground. He was a go-getter.

#9. Buffett still lives in the modest five-bedroom house he bought in Omaha, Nebraska in 1956 for $31,500. Today, a house can be had in the same neighborhood for around $2 million.

#8. Warren Buffet doesn't have a computer on his desk. He also uses a flip phone rather than an iPhone or Android. He's also only sent one email in his entire life–to Microsoft's Jeff Raikes.

#7. Buffett is a legendarily unhealthy eater and consumes a ton of Coca-Cola every single day. He has said:

"If I eat 2,700 calories a day, a quarter of that is Coca-Cola. I drink at least five 12-ounce servings. I do it everyday."

Buffett has also been known to eat ice cream for breakfast. Hey, why not? Life is short. Ice cream is delicious.

#6. It is never too late to make it. 99% of Buffett's $65 billion was made after he turned 50 years old.

#5. If you had invested $1,000 in Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1964 - the year Buffett took over the company - that stock would be worth roughly $13 million today.

#4. Buffett may live frugally, but he gives generously and encourages others to do the same. In 2010, together with Bill and Melinda Gates, he formed The Giving Pledge, which asks the world's wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. As of June 2016, more than 154 affluent individuals have signed the pledge, including Sara Blakely, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison.

#3. In July 2016, Buffett broke the record for giving (which he set) when he donated a whopping $2.9 billion to charity.

#2. Since 2000, Buffett has been auctioning off a lunch with him at his charity event benefiting the GLIDE Foundation. GLIDE'S mission is to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community. The winner gets to bring up to seven people to lunch with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan. The most recent winner paid $3,456,789 to lunch with the Oracle of Omaha.

#1. Warren Buffett doesn't think money equals success. Instead, he has said: "I measure success by how many people love me. And the best way to be loved is to be lovable." Spoken like a true Oracle.

About The Author:

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. ...

Inspirational: The Power of a Hug - 50 Years Later

by John O'Leary,

"I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words." - Ann Hood

We met in a boardroom.

He came in with a big smile. After short introductions, we started talking about business.

Tom Manenti is the Chairman and CEO of MiTek. It's an arm of the Berkshire Hathaway family of businesses. His boss is someone named Warren Buffet. (Yeah, I've never heard of him either!)

The more we talked business, the more we realized it wasn't just business that motivates us.

It's a love of people. Focus on mission. Desire to inspire others to live up to the fullness of their potential.

We finished our meeting talking about family, faith and our inflection points, or the moments in time that change the course of our lives.

For Tom, it was losing his mother when he was just nine-years-old. He remembers most vividly the first day back to school after the funeral.

As a 4th grader at Middle Road Elementary in Hazlet, NJ, he was totally overwhelmed with grief. No one knew what to say, so no one said anything. Everyone in class pretended it was just another day.

The final bell rang. The kids grabbed their stuff. They raced out of the classroom toward their homes; toward their families.

This day Tom walked home with a classmate named Bob. The two friends walked together in silence. Tom was too sad. The woman who always greeted him at the front door, would not be at home today. Or ever again.

When they got to the corner where they parted ways, Tom kept his head down as he continued towards his home alone.

After a few steps, Tom looked up. To his surprise, Little Bob was standing in front of him. He looked Tom directly in the eyes, and gave him a big, sincere and much-needed hug.

No words were exchanged.

The hug ended. Bob turned and walked toward his house. Tom continued toward his.

That was more than five decades ago.

The boys grew up. They got through school, started jobs, grew businesses, moved states, raised families and enjoyed life.

Last summer they reconnected with old friends for a weekend of golf. At a quiet moment, Tom brought up that day back in 1960. They'd never discussed it. Tom asked if Bob still remembered it.

"Rock," Bob replied using Tom's old nickname, "I remembered it vividly. I'll never forget it."

My friends, frequently people ask me what to say to a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer, what to say to someone who has lost a spouse, what words to say to someone who is struggling.

Difficulty, challenge, strife and loss are absolutely part of life.

Hopefully this story reminds you that it's seldom the wisdom of the words we speak and much more frequently the gift of the time we spend, the love we share and the hugs we give.

Keep your head up and seek opportunities to give away good, strong hugs.

Stay on fire and live inspired.


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.