Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pope's charitable organization, is donating 100,000 U.S. dollars to the Syrian Church to help people affected by civil war. Today Mgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of Cor Unum, arrived in the country to deliver the gift of the Holy Father to representatives of the Syrian Church. Meetings are scheduled with Msgr. Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and chair of the local Catholic hierarchy, and other prelates.
In a statement from the Vatican press office, Cor Unum said that "we know the Holy Father's repeated calls for the cessation of violence in Syria and that a way be found for dialogue and reconciliation between the warring parties, in view of peace and the common good." "The Pope", concludes the text, "exhorts us to pray for those who are suffering in this country." Through Caritas, the Syrian Catholic Church for months has been helping the population of the city of Homs, Aleppo and Damascus, distributing essential goods and medicines in the parishes.
The conflict between rebels and the Syrian regime, underway since March 2011, has involved the major cities of Syria, killing until today more than 9,000 people, according to UN sources, and forcing more than 20,000 people to flee their homes seeking refuge in Lebanon and Turkey.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr. Faddoul, President of Caritas Lebanon, said that the initiative of Cor Unum "shows the closeness of the Church to the whole population of Syria. The amount of money that is collected is not important. This initiative is primarily a spiritual support for Catholic volunteers, who are moved to donate everything for all these people."
Meanwhile, ongoing violence continues in the city of Homs, Hama and Deraa, disputed between rebels and the army. Despite the consent of Assad's government to the peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, today Makdessi Jihad, Syria's Foreign Ministry spokesman, announced that the army will withdraw from residential areas as soon as the security and civil peace are restored. "The military", said the state television, "are trying to defend and protect people who have been taken hostage by the rebels. The army is not happy to be in residential areas and will withdraw as soon as security and civil peace have been restored."