Aid to the Church in Need received the following update from Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus whose very words
accompanied ACN benefactors around the world through the 14 Stations of the Cross this past March,
as we prayed together for an end to the Syrian war.
Here is what the bishop has to say about the horror and hope Syria abides in now.
FROM ANXIETY TO HOPE
THE ROAD TO CALVARY
It seems that the Syrian crisis is the cruelest human drama since the Second World War. Here are the dramatic figures:
– 4 out of 5 Syrians live below the poverty line.
– The number of refugees inside and outside Syria is 12 million.
– 5.6 million children were affected by the war with three million without the ability to attend school.
– More than 2 million homes have been demolished or damaged.
– 6.2 million Syrians will have trouble finding food to eat.
– 300 000 people who were wounded in the war died within days for lack of medical care, the exodus of doctors, and the drug shortage. This number exceeds the number of victims (220 000).
– 91 churches and 1400 mosques have been demolished.
All of these figures are provisional because the war continues and always seems hopeless.
On the pastoral level there is decline in religious practice by up to 60%. There were 35 baptisms in 2011 and only 6 in 2014.
Fear, violence, and intolerance accelerate an exodus via underground, even if it means dying, in search of any retreat from this hell.
PATH OF HOPE
In front of dead ends and anxiety it was necessary to offer another way. The Church of Damascus has decided to take action by offering two constructive proposals:
1) On the humanitarian level:
Establish seven welfare committees to cover all areas of the city and the close suburbs. These teams will take a census of needs and discreetly ensure distribution to avoid lines at the social service office and to respect the anonymity of the poor. This is a great initiative of solidarity for poor refugees who will watch over poorer refugees. Two teams will ensure tutoring and the care of the chronically ill and elderly.
2) On the ecclesiastical level:
Thanks to heroic priests in two neighborhoods, we launched the construction of a basement and an apartment for places of worship. The cathedra is far from faithful so we had to relocate near the faithful.
When churches are destroyed Christians are dispelled. These Christians, while in danger, organized to build two small chapels. Each person gives what he or she can for this work. Some pray a rosary for this intention.
A feeling of joy and hope pervades their hearts and minds. One of the chapels will be dedicated to the Martyrs of Damascus. It is true that these projects will not advance without financial support from outside, but the fact of the faithful gather around these initiatives in these painful days, is itself generative of Christian Hope and Spiritual Resurgence.
In the face of war and violence Jesus says “I am the door” Jn 10 :9 .
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” Jn 14:6
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus