Aleppo parish priest: the light of the child Jesus in the darkness of COVID and sanctions
In Syria’s old business capital, conditions remain "very difficult". Life hangs between heaven and earth. Even during holidays, electricity, gas and fuel are scarce. Christmas is a source of hope and inspires reconstruction and new economic and emergency projects.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh, the 47-year-old Franciscan, guardian and pastor of the Latin parish of Aleppo, wrote a Christmas letter addressed to the Christian community, a missive he wanted “to share with you [about] what our life in Aleppo is like today.”
At “a very difficult period like this, and which has still lasted for more than a decade, we witnessed that ‘a Child was born for us’ (cf. Is 9:5). We touched his presence with our hands and with our hearts, and we have seen the heaven he brought to us.”
“Our conditions are still very difficult; we feel as if we are hanging in the air, crucified, between heaven and earth. We are ruled by sanctions and the corona pandemic from the outside, and fundamentalism and corruption from within. Repression increases as do disease, hunger and cold.”
“We receive electricity these days for only an hour every ten hours. There is a severe shortage of gas and fuel; the value of Syrian pound continues to decline, causing hunger and pain to many families. It seems like the darkness of war, corruption, indifference and sin are imposed on us more than ever before.”
Festivities In what was Syria’s old business capital were lowkey this year, not so much for fear of the novel coronavirus than the sanctions and embargo of the United States and Europe.
As some Syrian Church leaders said recently, including the apostolic vicar of Aleppo and the Maronite archbishop of Damascus, the Caesar Act imposed by the United States has been added to the ordinary punitive measures that affect people in every day life, along with inflation. In this context, Pope Francis' solidarity with his repeated appeals for peace has more value.
For the Aleppo parish priest, the birth of Christ at Christmas brings the light of hope to brighten daily life, helping in “rebuilding damaged homes” and starting necessary economic projects.
To this end, we need “food aid and health care, school aid and after school remedial teaching, and clothes. We felt that heaven was infinitely opened by the descent of the Saviour.
“I ask the new born Child to fill with his presence your hearts, families and reality, to grant you all the necessary blessings to make your smile brighter and your hearts overflow with joy and peace. May this secret presence bring consolation and reassurance to everyone around you.”