29 January 2019 – Cardinal Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria: after the conflict that tore Syria apart for 7 years, the Christian component of the Syrian population probably has fallen to around 2 percent. And the Christian presence in the Middle East runs the risk of becoming extinct not so much because churches are destroyed, but because men emigrate abroad, while families with a Christian spouse and a Muslim spouse will follow the Islamic religion. Thus Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, outlined the current critical moment of the Christian communities present in Syria in a synthetic manner. This was reported by the blog of the Embassy of Hungary to the Holy See, in the brief report on the visit made in recent days by the Apostolic Nuncio in Hungary.
The considerations on the current condition of the Christian communities in Syria were expressed by Cardinal Zenari during a conference organized in the great hall of the Péter Pázmány Catholic University (PPKE) in Budapest, in collaboration with the Secretariat for the Aid to the Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps program of the Hungarian government. The Cardinal, referring to the exodus of Christians, reported that after the Second World War they still constituted 25% of the Syrian population, a percentage that had fallen to 6% before the conflict.
Among the causes of this decrease, the Nuncio also mentioned the low birth rate of Christian families.
The event organized at the University of Budapest also included Tristan Azbej, Secretary of State for the Aid to the Persecuted Christians and Balázs Orbán, Secretary of State at the Hungarian Council Presidency.
In his speech, Azbej argued that "there are several answers in the world to the great challenge of our age: the economic, humanitarian and migration crisis, and we believe that the solutions chosen by Western governments are not satisfactory. They - added the Hungarian representative - have chosen to support migration, inviting people to leave their homeland, while Hungary argues, on the contrary, that it is the primary interest of every person to remain in their homeland".
Cardinal Zenari's visit to Hungary was mainly motivated by the official launch of the support offered by the Hungarian government to the "Open Hospitals" program, to finance the medical treatment of about 4,500 patients in Syrian health care facilities. On 22 January it was Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, who gave Cardinal Mario Zenari (see photo) the official document of Hungarian contribution of 1.5 million euro to the "Open Hospitals" Program, managed by the AVSI Foundation. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 28/1/2019)