Antonia Moffat writes: The Lenten Letter from the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus - brings home to us once again the great and on going suffering of the peoples of Syria, Pray for the persecuted Church everywhere this Lent and also remember the persecuted in our own lands which is happening more and more.
Let us be united in prayer this Lent for a purification of both the church and the world which will lead to a renewal of respect for faith, life and peace in all Nations.
Please feel free to share this letter, to read it out and to use it as part of prayer vigils.
A LONG WAIT
1) Neither PEACE…..nor WAR. This situation where there is neither peace nor war in Syria has become intolerable. Any reconstruction has been frozen until further orders. The shortages of basic sources of energy have made the winter months unbearable, even life- threatening for the children, the elderly and the many homeless. The escalating value of the dollar against the local currency has not improved the life of the people, who are trapped by the blockade of simple necessities.
2)THE ALARMING EXODUS. In the last general meeting of families only four couples were less than 50 years old. The ageing of Christian families has increased at an alarming rate. According to recent counts the Christians in Syria have lost between 50 and 77% of their people… in 2009 they were 4.7%of the population, how many are they today? What future is there for this little flock? They are faced with a big challenge, both socially and pastorally; an ageing minority now faces uncertainty.
3) A COMBAT which is not lost. Since 2010 Pope Benedict XVI encourages us to immerse ourselves in the social teaching of the Church, in every way possible, as we push for renewal. By signing a historic document 'Human brotherhood' with the Grand Imam d'al Azhar on the 4th February 2019, Pope Francis has opened new perspectives of Living together and Hope.
Although it is now a minority and much enfeebled, the Church in Syria rests on the sacrifices of its martyrs, strengthened and encouraged by the fire of the Spirit and the Light of the Gospel and will continue to guard the faith of Peter and hold to the route which allows them to progress further along the road to salvation.
+ Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus.
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