An Open Letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip to President Obama

Metropolitan Phillip

Metropolitan Phillip

Metropolitan Philip is the leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.

September 6, 2013

President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you with a heavy heart having heard the recent news of the attack on the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, Syria by the rebel forces. This city houses one of the oldest and most important monasteries, the Monastery of St. Thekla, which is considered a holy place by both Christians and Muslims.
This attack by the rebel forces, who are supported by the U.S. government, is an unspeakable act of terror, and speaks volumes to the viciousness of those rebel forces who seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Apparently there is nothing that is sacred to these people, and it is very disturbing that these same people are being supported by our government.

Mr. President, we appeal to your humanity, and compassion for people to halt consideration of any U.S military action against the Syrian government. This would be a deadly and costly action, and nothing can be gained by it. If indeed chemical weapons have been used (and this is still to be determined by the UN inspectors who recently returned from Syria), there is no compelling evidence which points to the use of these weapons by the Syrian government. On the contrary, there is some compelling evidence that the rebel forces had both the means and the will to launch such a heinous attack against innocent people, Christians and Muslims alike, who are all the children of God.

May our Lord and God guide you to find a peaceful solution which relies on negotiation and not bombs.


+Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America


  1. Amen.

    The White House’s position on Syria has been made abundantly clear.

    To consider:

    1. The US Constitution. If President Obama orders a military strike on Syria without the backing of Congress, the US is heading towards a constitutional vacuum. The US Constitution solely grants Congress the authority to enact legislation and declare war. Congress may be compelled to act out of narrow self interest (i.e. self preservation) and may support Obama and the White House; if only to avoid a constitutional crisis.

    2. The United Nations. The most recent position of the UN Security Council was released on 7 June 2013, through normal channels: Press Release SC/11028. This Press Release points to a humanitarian concern that is common to all.

    3. US legacy in the Region. Military action in Syria will be judged through the lens of the past. A “limited military strike” will seriously undermine the UN Security Council mandate and will lead to civilian casualties, including women and children. A more sustained and coordinated military strike designed to improve the tactical position of the Syrian opposition will exacerbate the crisis. External intrusion will deepen polarization of identities and internal violence, as in Darfur. See Alex de Waal’s paper: Who are the Darfurians? Arab and African Identities, Violence and External Engagement (2004).

    4. The Syrian Opposition. The Syrian rebels present a far worse governance option than Assad. Here’s Barak Barfi’s snapshot of who most stands to gain from a military strike: Who are the Syrian rebels?

    5. The Situation in Egypt. The political situation following the failure of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to manage a reasonable transition to democracy, coupled with anemic economic growth following the fall of Mubarak in 2011, needs to be addressed before any attempt can be made to deal with Syria politically.

    There are currently 5 million internally displaced persons in Syria and a further 2 million in neighbouring countries.

    As the Lord makes abundantly clear in Isa 31:3, plans not rooted in divine counsel will fail.

  2. Michael Bauman says

    Our rulers care nothing for what they consider an archaic sentimetaliry, the Constitution. They rule with an amoral self-interest. They are illegitament and don’t care nor does the citizenry as long as we get out cut. Trying to work through the political system has become a fools errand. They don’t give a fig for justice, mercy or decency.

    The powers are preparing the military to consider Christians extremists so they will have little compunction following orders to arrest or kill us.

    Obama’s sentiments are with radical Islam.

    • James Bradshaw says

      Why do so many have this irrational hatred and fear of Obama? No matter what decision he makes regarding Syria, it’s going to be the “wrong” one, apparently. I think you’re also being a bit melodramatic. The guy’s in his second term and there’s no hint of any gulags for Christians or anyone else.

      (I can relate to the paranoia, though. I was somewhat irrational in my dislike of GWB because of the “R” after his name but who, in retrospect, simply made the best decisions he was capable of given the knowledge and information he had at the time).

      I will say that I think Obama’s wrong on Syria, even though I understand his motivations. The images of weapons of mass destruction being visited upon the innocent are horrifying, and it’s difficult to stand by and just watch it happen. However, our intervention may not only fail to end this violence but may escalate it. There’s no good answer on this one. Flip a coin?

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

        Irrational fear and hatred of Obama? How so?

        • James Bradshaw says

          I think it’s irrational to insist that our nation’s leaders are plotting to throw Christians into gulags (as Michael seems to be implying). Anything’s possible, but I see no evidence for this.

          You then have the “Birther” folks who seem to take it on faith that Obama cannot possibly be an American citizen (no matter what evidence is provided to the contrary). In a nation where income disparity has reached levels almost unseen in American history, Obama’s merely expressing concern about this and seeking to address it with some form of public policy is necessarily an expression of socialism, Marxism and every other form of evil.

          I’m don’t agree with all of his policies and views (his support of Planned Parenthood is an intellectual and moral blind spot and seems to conflict with his otherwise empathetic personality), but it would be nice to hear a critique of Obama from the Right that doesn’t involve comparisons to the most evil and tyrannical men in history.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Mr. Obama has stated quite clearly in speeches and his books that he favors Islam. His policies in Egypt favored the Muslim Brotherhood. He has done nothing to help the Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran, etc. Nothing new Clinton after all bombed Serbia on Pascha.

      The main forces behind the insurgents in Syria are Iran and Saudia Arabia for whom Assad is not Muslim enough.

      Gulags won’t have to be used here, we’ll gladly adopt the secular ways rather than remaining Christian. We’ll be patronized enough to “allow” us our quaint little Sunday morning rituals if we must. As long as we are silent and compliant they will let us keep jobs in the government, maybe. New Mexico ruled it is “the price of citizenship” to be forced to violate our beliefs if we want to run a business there.

      Have you seen the efforts in the military to condemn Christians as extremists you know like Roman Catholics and Baptists because they don’t approve homosexuality?

      Obama is riding the wave of hatred of Christians propagated by the homosexual idealouges.

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