Christmas for Syrian Christians, stronger than Covid-19 and sanctions
From armed conflict to an “even tougher” economic war, which caused “a further lack of resources and raw materials”. Covid-19 makes life even more difficult than before, but the faithful are always “numerous at Mass”. The Pope in Iraq is a sign of the “Churches’ communion with those who suffer”.
The declining of violence in Syria “is giving way to an even harsher economic war,” from the embargo to the Caesar Act, the result “is a further lack of resources and raw materials,” notes Msgr. Samir Nassar. makes life even more difficult
The Maronite Archbishop of Damascus shared a letter with AsiaNews to mark Advent and preparation for Christmas among Syrian Christians. Covid-19 ” makes life even more difficult”, says the prelate, but in the face of challenges, the faithful attended “Mass in large numbers” and strengthen “the mission in the peripheries”.
In this difficult context, but full of faith and hope, the testimonies of solidarity of Pope Francis have even greater value, with his repeated appeals for peace, the last of which on 11 December at a meeting of 50 Catholic agencies.
“The Pope-has always been close to his beloved Syria” says Msgr. Nassar, and the Syrian people “thank him for these years of prayer and discreet solidarity in the 10 years of war”.
“His visit to Iraq – he concludes – shows how great is the communion of the Church with the suffering people … the Syrians are a bit envious and hope to soon be able to welcome the pontiff to our land”.
Below a letter from the Archbishop of Damascus:
1) It is now the 10th year of war.
The weakening of the violence in Syria has given way to a state of real economic hardship.
The situation of a world -wide blockage has been coupled with what is known as “Caesar’s law” whereby those who help the country are penalized.. The result is continued shortages, with never-ending queues outside the bakers and the petrol stations, a lack of domestic gas, and galloping inflation, together with money belonging to the Syrian people blocked in Lebanese banks since October 2019.
Covid 19 has made the social life of the people almost unbearable, and has added to their fear and solitude. The closure of the neighbouring borders, coupled with an obligatory Corona virus test at each crossing is an extra expense, and at times a real problem for the families; taxis often cannot run and those without work or resources suffer even more hardship. The problems are aggravated especially in the medical and hospital sections which are faced with the growing numbers of doctors who are leaving the country, and a lack of available medicines.
RESISTANCE AND RENEWAL
Faced with Covid 19 the faithful have protested against the locking of the churches and have continued coming to daily mass; many feel unable to follow the directives of the Bishops to receive Holy Communion in the hand and insist on receiving it on the tongue as they would normally, so defying the pandemic and showing their trust in Divine Providence.
In what concerns renewal the Church of Damascus has been living through a time of prayerful reflection since Pentecost Sunday, 31st May, praying over their reactions to the wounds suffered, and trying to find a new way of reaching out to others with a newly formed pastoral approach. This is especially aimed at meeting and helping those living on the outskirts of the city, giving them a possible renewal of life based on the Gospels and a church more connected to their daily lives.
Will we know how to continue this journey to be able to celebrate true pardon before the Divine Child?