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    » 12/30/2013, 00.00

    SYRIA

    Aleppo archbishop: The Church is helping everyone "without distinction of religion or faction"



    Two weeks of bombing by the regime and the rebels left nearly 500 people dead. At Christmas, 12 bombs fell on the city's Christian neighbourhoods. "People are exhausted by war, hunger and cold," but "The solidarity between Muslims and Christians is a sign of hope for the future," said Mgr Antoine Audo, Chaldean archbishop of Aleppo said.

    Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "The Church in Aleppo is standing steadfast despite the bombs, hunger and cold of recent weeks," said Mgr Antoine Audo, Chaldean Archbishop of Aleppo. "We want to live and have faith, and show our solidarity to everyone without distinction of religion or faction. This is our mission, our task," he added. In talking about how people lived through Christmas under "a shower of bombs" that killed 500 people, he also described how Christians and Muslims expressed solidarity and shared. For the prelate, the pope's repeated appeals for peace have helped priests, prelates and ordinary believers not to lose hope or faith in God.

    "On 25 December, at least 12 bombs fell on various neighbourhoods, many of them Christian, killing scores of people," Mgr Audo said.

    Although the situation has improved in the past few days, the city is full of poor people, the bishop noted.

    Air strikes by government forces, shelling by the rebels, the cold weather and the skyrocketing food prices have reduced the population to the point of starvation. Even the middle class has fallen into poverty.

    "Unfortunately, we cannot see the end of this violence," he noted. "No one knows when this war will end. We can accept everything, except this confusion without hope for change."

    Still, the situation has not stopped Christians and the Church from helping others and praying for peace in Syria.

    Despite the explosions and the danger of death, hundreds of people attended Mass in the Chaldean cathedral, one at 5 pm on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas morning.

    At the same time, the hatreds and divisions that are destroying Syrian society have not stopped the flow of help to the poor and to displaced families.

    "In recent months, thousands of families from Aleppo's suburbs and surrounding villages found refuge in the city centre, particularly in Christian neighbourhoods," Mgr Audo said.

    "The Church has welcomed everyone, without distinction, although sometimes some Christians fail to understand such bigheartedness that sees no differences between religions and political factions." In fact, every day, at the local Chaldean church, Caritas serves lunch and hands out food to the poor and to displaced people, most of whom are Muslims.

    "A few days ago an elderly Muslim man ran after me and loudly expressed his gratitude for our work," the prelate said. "You see real gold when you are having hard times," he said. "For Muslims, Christian charity is gold.

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    See also

    13/02/2012 SYRIA
    Without dialogue Syria will become a new Iraq, Aleppo bishop says
    Mgr Antoine Audo speaks about the recent attacks that left 28 people dead in his city, including two Christians. The prelate notes the spirit of solidarity between Christians and Muslims, united despite a climate of hatred and violence. He calls on the international community to favour dialogue among the various factions rather than a spirit of vengeance. The Arab League calls for the deployment of United Nations troops to stop fighting between Syrian forces and rebels. Pope made an appeal on Sunday.

    05/05/2015 SYRIA
    Aleppo vicar: facility feeding Christians and Muslims counters “unimaginable” atrocities
    As government and rebel forces continue to perpetrate violence, Syria’s old “peaceful mosaic” lies shattered by external forces, Mgr Abou Khazen said. However, small acts of solidarity give some hope. A nun-run facility, funded by Christians and Muslims, feeds 12,000 people a day.

    22/02/2016 16:55:00 SYRIA – INDIA
    Journal by a Jesuit in Aleppo shows that the miracle of faith is stronger than war and destruction

    AsiaNews publishes Fr Sami Hallak’s ‘daily journal’ on Aleppo’s crisis, in which he slams the lack of water, and the ways people save it and reuse it. Fighting and shelling have recently intensified, with deaths among Christians as well. The statue of Our Lady is a sign of hope for the community.



    15/10/2014 SYRIA - HOLY LAND
    Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo is optimistic about Fr Hanna, who continues his mission among Syrian Christians
    Mgr Georges Abou Khazen is in contact with the Franciscan friar who was kidnapped and released in the north of the country. The latter is free to visit his community but "cannot leave Syria" before meeting with local Muslim leader. The reasons for his abduction and for the meeting remain a mystery. For moderate Muslims, Christians "are a source of dialogue and reconciliation in an absurd war."

    17/06/2013 SYRIA
    Massacres by Islamic extremists bolster Bashar al-Assad
    Ignored for months by Western media, massacres by Islamist brigades have appeared on pro-rebel media with reports on summary executions, Islamic courts and the mass killing of Shias, justified in the name of the hatred against Assad. However, in al Qusair and Aleppo, residents have welcomed the return of the regular army.



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