Given that religious freedom in the Middle East is linked to relations with the Islamic religion, he said, contemporary Middle East Christians "do not understand how we can close our eyes to political parties based on Islam."
He cited the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way and dying for God is our ultimate desire."
Patriarch Younan warned that some methods of teaching Islam to children lack exegesis and are a danger, leading to situations like the murder of the French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel.
"In the Koran we have verses that inspire tolerance, this is true, but also we have verses that inspire violence," the patriarch said. "And if you tell those kids that all those verses are coming from God, literally the words of God…you will be able to change that young man into a beast."
The general situation of Iraqi and Syrian Christians was also a focus of the patriarch's remarks.
He spoke of the kidnappings and killings of civilians and the atrocities committed by the Islamic State group or the warring parties in Syria. He recounted the destruction of churches and monasteries in Iraq and Syria and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
Unless Christians are protected, he warned, Christianity will soon die in Syria, Iraq and even Lebanon. He said it would be comparable to Turkey where there are so few Christians despite its history of ecumenical councils and Fathers of the Church.
The Knights of Columbus have raised over $11 million for Christian refugees since 2014. The Catholic fraternal organization has helped provide food supplies, medical clinics, infrastructure, and housing. It has also supported Syriac Catholic priests exiled from Mosul.
Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, writing to the convention on behalf of Pope Francis, thanked the Knights of Columbus for their "strenuous efforts" to defend the human rights and legitimate aspirations of persecuted Christians and to provide for their needs.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus responded to Patriarch Younan. He cited atrocities like the murder of four Missionaries of Charity in Yemen and the kidnapping of their priest Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil.
He asked the convention for a moment of silence to pray for "these martyrs of our faith and victims of religious hatred."
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