09/03/2022, 13.54
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Pope: Syria has been attacked, robbed and abandoned

Francis receives the Avsi Foundation, which has been promoting the "Open Hospitals" project since 2017 that has made possible 80 thousand health services in Catholic facilities. After 12 years of war," the pontiff recalled, "the Syrian one remains one of the most serious crises in the world, with destruction, growing humanitarian needs, socio-economic collapse, poverty and hunger at very serious levels. Remembering "good samiratans" killed while helping others.



Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Like the unfortunate man in the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, Syria has been "attacked, robbed and abandoned half-dead by the roadside. But not forgotten and abandoned by Christ and by so many individuals, associations, institutions," said Pope Francis this morning as he received in Avsi Foundation in audience the Vatican.

The association promotes the "Open Hospitals" project, thanks to which the three Catholic hospitals in Aleppo and Damascus - active for about 100 years - and four outpatient clinics open in more isolated areas of the country continue to operate in Syria.

After 12 years of war," Pope Francis noted, "given the untold number of dead and wounded, the destruction of entire neighborhoods and villages, and of the main infrastructure, including hospitals, the question arises: who will now be able to heal you, Syria? Syria's remains one of the most serious crises in the world, with destruction, growing humanitarian needs, socio-economic collapse, and poverty and hunger at extremely severe levels."

Hence the importance of initiatives such as "Open Hospitals." "Open to poor sick people," the pontiff stressed, "without distinction of ethnic and religious affiliation" a sign of "a Church that wants to be a home with open doors and a place of human brotherhood. In our charitable welfare institutions," he added, "people, especially the poor, must feel 'at home' and experience an atmosphere of dignified welcome.

This leads to reaping "a twofold fruit: healing the bodies and mending the social fabric, promoting that mosaic of exemplary coexistence between various ethnic-religious groups characteristic of Syria. In this regard," the pope further added, "it is significant that the many Muslims assisted in your hospitals are the most grateful.

Francis also recalled that hundreds of "good Samaritans, including some volunteers" in these 12 years of war in Syria "have also lost their lives coming to the aid of their neighbor. To them goes all our gratitude." And inviting us to overcome the sense of limitation that arises between the disproportion between the immense efforts needed for the reconstruction of Syria and the possibilities of each person's intervention, he invited us to remember that "even the stony Syrian desert, after the first rains of spring, is cloaked in a blanket of green" thanks to many small drops.

Precisely the need not to look away from this wounded land was in these days the focus of the conference "In order not to forget Syria and the Syrians" organized in the Vatican by Avsi together with the dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and the dicastery for the Oriental Churches.

The initiative was an opportunity to present the results of the "Open Hospitals" project, launched in 2017 and supported thanks to donations from small private donors, large companies, the Italian and Hungarian governments and numerous European Bishops' Conferences.

A total of 80,000 health services have been provided in the three hospitals in Damascus and Aleppo and in the four dispensaries. "The goal," Avsi Secretary Gianpaolo Silvestri said in his speech, "is to reach 140 thousand services by the end of 2024. But Silvestri also recalled that "the world crisis is affecting Syria in a devastating way. Syria has disappeared from the media but the needs remain, as do the poor, displaced and refugees."

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