Archbishop Samir Nassar
Life in Syria has become so dangerous for Christians in Syria, that they are faced with the choice of trying to leave - in itself a very difficult course of action, or being killed. That's the view of the Maronite archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar.
The Archbishop said defenceless civilians, both Christians and Muslims, are being killed each day by bombs, car bombs, snipers, lack of medical care (223 hospitals were closed and all doctors are fleeing, explains Mgr Nassar), malnutrition, and lack of adequate food for diabetics, heart patients and nursing staff.
The local Church has become a have, a "wall of tears", to which all are turning everyday "for protection and help in finding a visa to leave."
Since 2005, Syrian Christians "have seen the UN organize since the systematic departure of Iraqi refugees towards the West," but they feel abandoned, destined to die without being able to escape. Consulates have been closed for a year and a half, he said.
Archbishop Nassar describes heartbroken pastors who witness the plight of the poor Christians "who do not find any reason to have to die in this senseless war". They have seen their wealthier brethren leave Syria, and now look to the Church as the only reality to ask for help in the shipwreck. "Pope Francis' appeal in favour of the beloved Syria resonates in their hearts .... The sister Churches in the whole world pray and show their affection for this little flock, without being able to appease the storm." This situation also poses in front of the pastors problems of conscience: "To advise them to stay could lead to death like a lamb dumb before the butcher. Our martyrology simply gets longer ... Helping them leave means emptying the Biblical Land of its last Christians. " This dilemma can only be resolved by relying on the "heart of God", offering the faithful pastoral closeness that helps them perceive the reality of Jesus' words, which never disappoint: "Do not be afraid ... I am with you ... ".