Chaldean bishop of Aleppo says it is fundamental "to live the Christian faith, the Gospel" by remaining in the country. Respect for others, attention to the poor and true solidarity are the signs of mission. The "urgent" need of witnesses to the gratuitous love of God. Do not be afraid to "call to faith" those who are in search.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) - Being a missionary in Syria today means "being able, every day, to build bridges" despite the real and concrete "danger of war and violence," says Msgr. Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo.
The bishop believes that "living the Christian faith, living the Gospel, remaining in the country" despite the conflict, "is for us to be missionaries". A presence that becomes an element of encounter, of confrontation, of dialogue as requested by Pope Francis on World Mission Sunday, in which the pontiff renewed the invitation to "give fresh air to those who live in the pollution of the world".
The bishop of Aleppo and former president of Caritas Syria explains that "in Syria we cannot use the word missionary", because in Arabic it has "the meaning and the meaning of colonizer. It is sad to have to say this - he adds - but this is the historical-political context in which we live ”and even words have their weight and can lend themselves to misunderstandings, generate divergences and divisions.
When we ask him how we can be witnesses of Christ in a reality like the Syrian one of today, Msgr. Audo first of all stresses "respect for others" united "with attention to the poor, with listening and true solidarity". In this difficult phase, exacerbated by the tragedy of war, it is important "not to make money a god, to always tell the truth, not to be afraid of threats" but to continue on the path ... "this means being a missionary".
100 years after the promulgation of Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud by, the day after the First World War to give a "new impulse to the mission", the Pope announced an extraordinary missionary month. Inviting to "go out of oneself, make oneself a gift", the pontiff wanted to re-launch the primary task of the Church and of every Christian. This period, he said, should “jolt us and motivate us to be active in doing good. Not notaries of faith and guardians of grace, but missionaries. ".
"In this sense, taking up the words of the Pope - the bishop says - it seems clear to me that there is an urgent need for Christian men and women who are capable of being witnesses of God's gratuitous love". Today it is more than ever necessary "a total gift" of ourselves "with courage and faith. Even if wars are frightening - he warns - we must be witnesses of the universal love of the Church ".
The Syrian bishop also wants to send a message to the faithful: "In the service of the poorest - he explains - we are witnesses of the gratuitous love of Christ for all. In a situation of deadly violence, of refusal of the other because of ethnic and religious belonging, Christians can give a testimony of charity and freedom that derives precisely from the Gospel ". Finally, he concludes, "as Christians of the East and the West, we must not be afraid to call to faith those who are in search of God. This is what the world expects of us, the trust and joy that Christ gives us gives. " (D.S.)