At the center, Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo,
Mrs Sylvie Soulard, President of the ACN Canada Board of Directors
and Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada
Aid to the Church in Need, Montreal
Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart brings his message to Canada
“The situation is very bad and people are suffering,” said Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart about the situation in Aleppo where the war has raged for more than 5 years, during his visit to the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need in Montreal on April 26, just before the rupture of a hopeful cease-fire agreement in Syria.
Speaking about the people of Aleppo who now “have nothing,” Archbishop Jeanbart said lamentably, “they do not have what they need to live, to feed their children; they feel that the entire world has forgotten them.”
In a ten minute long filmed interview now available on the international charity’s Canadian Youtube channel, the Archbishop of Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy Aleppo indicated in two separate interviews (English and French) that the inhabitants of the city – the ancient economic lung of Syria – are terrorized by “unexpected” bombings in the zones populated by civilians, “innocent victims” of this ongoing conflict.
“Now, everyone is on social assistance, in survival mode,” said the archbishop. “We try to offer them provisions, food baskets, and help with their basic expenses,” related to their household.
Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, the Church in Syria has stood beside those who could not or would not leave and supports them as best as they can, thanks to organizations among others like Aid to the Church in Need.
The Church in Syria: a first in the story of Christianity
If the humanitarian aspect is essential and that the Church responds to the best of its ability, the historical aspect is equally as important. After all, the Church in Syria is the first of the Christian Churches in the world! “The most important thing for me as pastor, as bishop, as successor to the apostles… is my faith. The Church in Syria is the first of all the Churches. The first Christians were the Christians from Syria,” explains the archbishop.
“Christian life began with the Jews who became Nazarenes. Later in Antioch they would be called ‘Christian’. But here […] Christian life began in Aleppo, in Tyr, in Sidon, all the cities in Syria and in Lebanon. It is also “the Church of Syria healed Paul of his blindness, it was the Church of Damascus which baptized him, confirmed him and sent him out to preach the Gospel.” For Msgr Jeanbart, it is “very important to keep this extraordinary legacy.”
Finally, the Christian presence is also a carrier of Islamic-Christian conviviality, “which can help the Muslims to know the Christians and to help them to not consider them to be people from another planet.”
Donating for Syria
The international Catholic charity is still supporting numerous projects this year close to the Syrian Church: food baskets, milk and diapers, support and lodging, access to medication. Since 2011, Aid to the Church in Need benefactors supported the Syrian population with an amount of 14 million dollars.
To make a donation: https://secure.acn-aed-ca.org
By Mario Bard and Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada