12/07/2023, 11.05
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Archbishop of Damascus: war in Gaza is 'terrifying'. Young Christians, 95% want to flee

by Mons. Samir Nassar *

The Maronite prelate Msgr. Nassar emphasises that for 12 years the Syrian population has been living "in a situation of incessant danger". The vain wait for peace broken by conflict, poverty, pandemic and earthquake. Without the new generations 'the Church loses its foundation and has no future' like the rest of the country. The Wfp will suspend its food aid programme from January.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - "We are scared" by the conflict in Gaza, which represents a threat to everyone but makes life even more "precious and dignified". For 12 years "we have been living in a situation of incessant danger, waiting for a peace" that is slow in arriving.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr.Samir Nassar, Maronite archbishop of Damascus, describing the climate in the Syrian capital in these weeks of profound tension throughout the Middle Eastern region.

A picture of violence and terror, which overlaps with a reality already critical due to profound economic, political and social difficulties. “Just thinking about what is happening in the Strip, adds the prelate, we have decided to cancel the holidays and anniversaries linked to Christmas, maintaining only the religious celebrations”.

For too long, Syrians, especially the civilian population who had no role or interest in the conflict, have had to suffer unjust collective punishment due to international sanctions and the Caesar Act imposed by the United States, among the main causes of the crisis.

And in recent days the announcement by the World Food Program of the end of the food assistance program in the country at the end of January 2024, due to the lack of funds as already reported in the past by the UN agency.

War, economy on its knees, terrorism, pandemic and earthquake, most recently the conflict in Gaza: there are many shadows over the future of the country and of young people, who are increasingly choosing exodus, fleeing abroad, not finding horizons and prospects at home.

And this is the main theme around which Msgr. Nassar, Advent message revolves. In which he underlines that without the new generations "the Church loses its foundations and has no future".

Here is the message from Msgr. Nassar:


Not having the possibility or the means to go to WYD in Portugal, more than a thousand young Syrians gathered from August 1 to 4, 2023 around the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sidnaya north of Damascus with the aim of celebrating WYD Syrian remotely in union with the Lisbon gathering. 

These beautiful Pentecost revealed that up to 95% of these young people wish to leave and leave the country, thus expressing their anguish and despair. The future seems completely blocked: to the extremely precarious economic situation and the lack of employment, adds the lack of housing and even electricity. A new threat is weighing for the past 3 years, it is rare to find a family with all its members, whoever can leave is leaving... the earthquake of February 6, 2022 and the Gaza war have darkened the horizons even more. Christians in Aleppo went from 160,000 in numbers in 2011 to 30,000 in 2018... and to 19,000 after the earthquake.

Can we imagine a Church without Young People?

May the light of Christmas shine in the hearts of these young people and restore Hope.

Christmas 2023


*Maronite Archbishop of Damascus           

(Photo credit: Caritas Siria)

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