Vicar of Aleppo says the Risen Christ defeats wars and suffering at Easter
In Syria, war still echoes 11 years after it started, but now hunger, poverty and unemployment are doing more harm than fighting. Syria complains to the UN over Israeli missile strikes. For Bishop Abou Khazen, the light of the resurrection overcomes darkness. He urges the faithful not to underestimate suffering but also not let themselves be overcome by despair.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, released a message for Holy Week and Easter to the brothers and sisters “of all faiths, sects and religions”.
In it, he says that it is hard to utter words of reconciliation in the “difficult times” experienced by the peoples of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries like Ukraine, now torn by a tragic war.
Indeed, “I continue to hear cries of suffering, voices of anguish and words of despair” that destroy “all hope” and “optimism”, he said. Yet, even the most tragic event cannot defeat “Christian hope” in the Risen Jesus.
Eleven years since the start of Stria’s civil war, things are still difficult although most of the fighting has died down; for its part, the international community has turned its attention elsewhere, especially in Ukraine, which Trappist nuns describe as “a new Syria”.
The main problems today are associated with the economic crisis, high unemployment. and the lack of prospects, especially among young people.
About 85 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line; more than 14 million out of a total population of just over 18 million need aid. Inflation has led to high prices, most of all of basic goods.
In addition, Western sanctions, like the infamous Caesar Act, affect disproportionately ordinary people and the poor.
In recent days, tensions with Israel have escalated, with the latter targeting Iranian assets in Syria as well as Iran’s local allies, damaging the civilian infrastructure.
Yesterday Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad appealed to the United Nations to stop Israel’s repeated and systematic attacks in violation of the UN-sponsored 1974 Agreement on Disengagement.
Yesterday morning Israeli missiles hit military targets in central Syria, in particular a scientific research centre west of Hama province.
Against this background of crisis and violence, the vicar of Aleppo hopes that the Easter season will see the “light of the resurrection shine in people’s hearts” and overcome “darkness”.
This time saw “Christ conquer death” and “rise from the tomb and precede us to Galilee" where “we shall hear his word again”.
“Under such difficult circumstances, we cannot ignore or underestimate the suffering,” said Bishop Abou Khazen, but this should not be allowed to become a source of despair. In fact, Jesus himself “invites us to keep afar” our daily sufferings and find “strength” to continue the journey.
“What we are going through is not only an economic or apolitical crisis, but it is also a spiritual one,” he explained. In times of crisis, even a crisis of the spirit, “it is good for us to follow” the words of the risen Christ who exhorts us to return to Galilee.
Thus, we can go back to past happy times and the possibility of meeting the Lord again. This may not change reality, or the environment of war and marginalisation, but it will favour an “inner change, make us stronger in the face of hardships, revive hope and overcome anxiety and fear.”