Eastern Catholicism in Syria

There are six Christian Eastern Catholic churches in Syria, in order of size: Melkite (Greek Catholic), Armenian, Syrian, Maronite, Latin and Chaldean. The Syrian Uniate and Roman Catholic Churches were favored by the French, themselves Catholic.

Demographically, Syrian Catholics were concentrated in areas where the French were also located, facilitating regular communication between the two groups. Syrian Catholics benefited economically and educationally from the French occupation, which bred tensions between Syrian Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities. As a result, Syrian Catholics, who for many generations attempted to distinguish themselves ethnically from Arabs, were more likely to identify with the French colonial powers and tended to favor limited nationalism under the leadership of European sponsorship, while the Syrian Orthodox communities preferred full secular nationalism independent of France. Syrian Christians are divided in the current Syrian conflict. Some support Assad in fear that an opposition government will be Islamist in nature, while others strongly oppose the Assad regime.


Phillip Allen, "Early Arab Nationalism and the Orthodox of Syria: A Comparative Approach to the Sectarian Environment," The Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 1993), pp. 43-45.

World Christian Encyclopedia, 2nd. Ed., Vol. I, eds. David Barrett et. al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 719-722.