Archbishop of Damascus: War and poverty rob young Syrians of WYD
Msgr. Nassar confirms that there will be no Syrian delegation at the Panamanian event. In these years of conflict many young boys and girls have left the country. The desire to escape and the feeling of abandonment remain strong. In March there will be a Syrian "mini WYD". The words of Pope Francis as a source of support for young people.
Damascus (AsiaNews) - "For different reasons" "there will be no group from Syria" at the World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama, scheduled from today until January 27, says Maronite archbishop of Damascus Samir Nassar. The prelate tells AsiaNews - not without displeasure - that it was not possible "to join" the event "for bureaucratic reasons, too high costs and the widespread poverty resulting from over seven years of war ".
Pending the arrival of Pope Francis, scheduled for today, hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world gathered in the small Central American state, to participate in the most important event that the Church dedicates to young people. No delegation from Syria will be presented for the occasion, confirming a situation which is still critical, because of the conflict.
"Most young Syrians - says Msgr. Nassar, who survived a rocket that hit the Greek-Melkite cathedral last year, fled from the country or hid in order to escape military service ". This compulsory service, he adds, "lasts too long and is often tantamount to death in a war that has been going on for more than seven years".
"The young people available, active - the prelate confesses - in most cases only want to leave".
Added to this are also bureaucratic obstacles: "All the consulates - underlines the Maronite archbishop of Damascus - left the country in 2012. Moreover, the Church itself struggles to organize group departures, also because there is the risk that someone would take the opportunity to flee and do not return to Syria. "
Among the young people who live every day a reality that remains difficult, for family losses, the lack of immediate resources and perspectives - above all work -, there is "a widespread feeling of abandonment, of being forgotten, relegated to the margins ". "At least 85 nations in the world - he continues - have participated in various ways in the destruction of their country.
55% of the Syrians no longer have anything, the situation is catastrophic and this is why for many, especially among the youngest, there is a strong desire to leave ". "There are many broken dreams - adds the prelate - and a visa to a country in which the situation is more tranquil appears as an anchor of salvation, the only source of hope".
However, Syria does not want to be just a tale of war and destruction and the local Church itself tries, by every means available, to remain an active member of society and work in a perspective of reconstruction and economic, social and pastoral development. "To compensate for the absence in Panama - says Msgr. Nassar - the Episcopal Commission for the laity and the family invites young people to join a Syrian 'mini WYD' scheduled for Friday, March 8th. The hope is to make Damascus an echo of the Panamanian event ". An opportunity to "re-launch the goal of peace" in the context of events for the "Week of Unity of Syria".
The prelate concludes by recalling that young people "find consolation in the words of Pope Francis", when he already underlined in 2014 that "the Syrian conflict is a piecemeal third world war " and on more than one occasion showed them "closeness" and that he shares their suffering. "That is why I ask you all to continue to pray for peace and reconciliation".