11/08/2016, 14.34
SYRIA
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United to Pope Francis: Syria’s Christians in ecumenical prayer

Caritas Syria has sponsored an evening of prayer attended by several Christian denominations in the capital seeking the end of the war. The desire to strengthen Christian unity inspired by the Pope in Sweden. During the evening 2 thousand copies of the Gospel distributed. Nuncio in Damascus: the commitment of Christians  to peace a "boost" for the whole community.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - In a country battered by five years of bloody war, the Syrian Christians are renewing their commitment to the cessation of violence by different denominations joining in a single, massive "cry for peace ".

An ecumenical prayer held in recent days in Damascus - to coincide with Pope Francis’ trip to Sweden - the meeting [interfaith] in preparation for next Christmas, is part of the many events promoted by the local Caritas. Apostolic nuncio Mario Zenari tells AsiaNews, this witness offered by the Christians is "a breath of fresh air" for the whole community.

For the Vatican diplomat, recently named among cardinal-designates by Pope Francis, the ecumenical peace meeting in Damascus on October 31 last "was a nice, encouraging event" for the efforts made by scouts and young people of the whole community . The bishops ecumenism, common prayer in the Greek-Melkite cathedral are "events that have given a little 'comfort' to alleviate years of suffering.

In my speech, continues Cardinal-designate Zenari, "I remembered the blood ecumenism" lived "every day in Syria," the persecution suffered by Christians which is both "a boost, an incentive to strengthen this union" and a "blood witness". And a warning so that the local Church continues its work in the social field, showing itself close "to the people who suffer."

During the ecumenical prayer for peace, Caritas distributed 2 thousand copies of the Gospel to participants as promised by the pope last year, during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, attended by a delegation from Syria. The volumes arrived in Damascus via Beirut, just the day before the meeting.

Receiving a copy of the Gospel, the young scout Bassel still felt "the wonderful message of peace" launched by Pope Francis. He is ready to pick it up, adds, and to work for the good "of my country, of my people and the entire world".

The distribution of the Gospels signed by the Pope was one of the highlights of the evening, attended by over 2,500 faithful, together with bishops of various Christian denominations in the capital, nuns, religious, priests, volunteers and scout groups.

Following the reading of prayers and special intentions for peace on the part of representatives of the various Churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant), there were alternating hymns sang by the Choir of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Saint Ephraim, to emphasize the ecumenical character of ' event.

Aida Shashati, a member of the International Movement of Apostolate of Independent Social Classes (MIAMSI), confirms the "great message of encouragement and love" that Pope Francis continues to reserve for Syria and its people. "It is a warning –she added - to be tied to our country, and to our Christian faith to shine like a bright star, which is able to bring light to others in dark times of war and violence."

Speaking to AsiaNews Sandra Awad, head of communications of Caritas Syria, emphasizes the great value of meeting. "For the first time - she says - Christians of different denominations have come together to pray" at a common event. In addition a brass band was set up , for the occasion composed of young people - around 50 in all - Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. "They performed at the end - said the Caritas activist - playing for over half an hour".

Remon Koury, the scout group of the Church of Saint Ephraim, says the event was a "success" because it shows how "the common commitment of the various" groups can be "beneficial" for Syria.

Majd Shiha, of the Vineyard of the Good Shepherd scout group, speaks of "launching a message to the whole world." "Usually - he adds - the papers do not show the bright side of the Syrian people that is creative, attached to the life of their country, who want to be happy despite the difficulties, and want to spread love, joy and peace everywhere."

"In the context of the evening – concludes Rita Jarallah, Head of Caritas Syria who oversaw the organization of the event - we understand that our country is becoming a reality ... Peace in Syria is indeed possible."

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