10/04/2019, 10.38
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Archbishop of Damascus: Missionary month, time to relaunch pastoral care

Archbishop Nassar invites us to reawaken the "living forces" that are present in the Church of the capital. The prelate calls for "witness" in a still critical context. The Gospel "our only resource". AsiaNews Source: Syrians "victims" of "external" attacks, sanctions "impoverish everyone".

Damascus (AsiaNews) - The extraordinary missionary month of October is "an opportunity to revive a dynamism at a pastoral level" and to "reawaken the living forces" that are "still today" present in the Church of Damascus, observes the Maronite archbishop of the Syrian capital Samir Nassar.

He was commenting to AsiaNews on the opening of the extraordinary missionary month, when Pope Francis calls for believers to "move outside ourselves, opening up to others in a spirit of giving”.

The prelate urges "to witness", even in a context that is still critical today and marked by great difficulties for the population, Christian and otherwise.

100 years after the promulgation of the apostolic letter Maximum Illud by Benedict XV, the day after the end of First World War to give a "new impulse to the mission", Pope Francis wanted to relaunch the missionary task of the Church and of every Christian. For the Argentine pontiff this period also wants to be "a shock to provoke us to become active in proclaiming the Good News. Notaries of faith and guardians of grace, but missionaries ".

"We started the missionary month - said Msgr. Nassar - celebrating the memory of the 29 martyrs, in the presence of the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows blessed by Pope Francis in mid-September" and that "will make the tour of all the dioceses of Syria ". The prelate, who himself survived a rocket attack that hit the Greek-Melkite cathedral last year, adds that this tour "will culminate at the end of May 2020 with a great Eucharistic celebration in Damascus".

This period, underlines Msgr. Nassar must become an opportunity to "draw new hope from the Gospel", which is "our only resource". Because Syrian Christians today are "silent witnesses", they are "a small and scared minority" who live in conditions of "extreme difficulty" like most of the people.

The prelate's words come in a context of serious crisis for the country, battered by eight years of bloody conflict and today victim of an economic war orchestrated by Western powers, primarily the United States and the European Union, through targeted sanctions.

Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front a first channel of dialogue has opened between the government and opposition groups, in view of the writing of the new post-war constitution. The first meeting of the Committee will be held on 30 October in Geneva, called to draft the new Charter, a small "sign of hope", albeit within a framework marked by "continuous episodes of violence and terrorism".

A AsiaNews source, speaking under a condition of anonymity because unauthorized to talk to the press, says that the Syrians feel they are victims of targeted attacks from outside, which today are not unleashed by bombs but by a targeted use of sanctions. "To understand what the Syrian population feels today - the source says - imagine a teacher who comes into the classroom and finds insults written on the blackboard. And who decides to punish all the students indiscriminately because he or she doesn't know who is responsible."

"These students - the source continues - are punished for something they did not commit and do not know who did it. In the cities, in the communities, in the villages this is the general feeling. European and US sanctions make everyone poorer every day. The middle class is disappearing, the poor are getting poorer and the very few rich are even richer and more powerful ”.

"The sanctions against Syria need to end  - the source concludes – they are unfair to the people, they provide no solution and do nothing but make the situation worse".

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