Posted by: Fr Chris | November 2, 2012

Syrian News

As feared by the rebels and as hoped for by the Assad regime, al-Queda jihadists from other countries have come into the Syrian Civil War. And so they are killing priests and lay people for the crime of being worshipers of the Cross.  Here are some stories from FIDES agency. Oh, and a reminder of just how old the Syrian Church is: Saint Paul was converted in Damascus and there are descendants of  Saint Peter’s family still living in Syria and still Christian (Peter left the family there and went off to Rome, thinking it was too dangerous for his family to go with him).

PS – the papal delegation never left Rome, a new one is being organized, and I fear that just like the Western nations who sit and moan about the tragedy, the Holy See is not going to be able to do anything concrete. Well, at least the Church sends money for refugee care. I don’t think the Western powers are doing too much at all. What a sorrowful thing to watch. Pray for their relief!!!

Homs (Agenzia Fides) – The last Christian who was in the center of Homs was killed, after the evacuation of the civilian population. Elias Mansour, 84 years old, Greek-Orthodox Christian, did not want to leave his home, in the Wadi Sayeh street, because he had to take care of his son Adnane, handicapped, even though he knew that his life was in danger. The Wadi Sayeh area – inhabited by Christians and Sunni Muslims – is still at the center of fighting between the army and rebels. The rebels are holed up in the areas of Khalidiyeh, Bab Houd, Bustan diwan, Hamidiyeh, until the streets of Wadi Sayeh and Ouret al shayyah. The forces of the regular army surround them. As a Greek-Orthodox priest reported to Fides, Elias Mansour was killed yesterday. In the days before he said he would not leave his house for no reason and that if he met the rebels, “he would have reminded them the Ten Commandments and the Holy Scriptures.” The funeral will be celebrated today in an Orthodox church. An Orthodox priest is trying to track down his son, who is disabled.

Meanwhile, as sources of Fides inform, this morning, the convent of the Jesuits in the Hamidiyeh area was hit in the fighting which takes place every day. The structure has undergone minor damage but no victims. The Jesuits and the displaced people who are there have experienced moments of fear, but they are fine. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 31/10/2012)

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – A car bomb exploded this morning in front of the only Syrian Orthodox Church in the town of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, damaging it severely. According to local sources, the victims of the attack are five people who were in a restaurant near the church. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, led by His Beatitude Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, confirmed to Fides the attack, and was not able to provide further details because “it was not possible to establish a telephone link between Damascus and Deir Ezzor.”
In September the same church dedicated to the Virgin Mary had been desecrated and vandalized by armed gangs. In the region of Deir Ezzor, currently under the control of the Free Syrian Army, Salafi groups have been reported. A month ago, some young Christians in the same region, in the ranks of the opposition wrote an open letter, also reported by the independent website “Now Lebanon”, asking the military leaders of the Revolutionary Council respect for Christian and Muslim places of worship, a symbol of Syrian civilization and asserting that desecrating acts are “against the values of the revolution.” The military replied it would have guaranteed the protection of sacred places. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/10/2012)

 

Two faithful kidnapped and killed. Patriarch Laham: “Christians are exploited in the conflict”

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – Two Christians were kidnapped and killed yesterday in Damascus, while a car bomb exploded last night near the church of St. Abramo, in the area of Jaramana, in the north of Damascus. The two faithful killed are Fr. Salami’s brother and cousin, Fr. Salami is a Greek-catholic parish in Damascus. As reported to Fides, yesterday the two were traveling from Qusair to Damascus. An armed group stopped and seized them, then demanded a ransom of 30 thousand U.S. dollars to their family. After two hours, the kidnappers announced that they had killed them.
Yesterday evening terror shocked the Christian and Druze residents in the area of Jaramana, already known to have suffered about a month ago other bombings. Local sources of Fides report that a violent explosion occurred near the Greek-catholic church of St. Abramo, damaging the surrounding buildings, but it is still unclear whether it caused deaths and injuries.
Asked by Fides Agency, the Greek-Catholic Patriarch Gregory II Laham, at the Vatican for the Synod on the new evangelization, explains: “Christians are used as objects in a challenge to the government. There is no persecution, they are not killed for their faith, but they are vulnerable and are manipulated in order to achieve other goals.” The Patriarch remembers with concern that “the brother of the Rector of our Seminary in Lebanon was kidnapped on July 15 and since then we have not had any news. These events create great anxiety among the faithful.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/10/2012)

 The Maronite Archbishop of Damascus: questions, fears and prayers of the Christians of Syria after the massacre of Bab Touma

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – The mass murderer attack carried out on Sunday, October 21 in the area of Bab Touma, on the eve of a peace mission that will bring Cardinals and delegated Bishops of the Synod of Bishops in Syria, renews for the Syrian Christians anxieties and questions that only “the coming days will bring a response.” But meanwhile, “many have taken the path of the exodus. Others are preparing for the possibility of a hasty departure. ” A church without her faithful is likely to become a “silent witness.” So, in a note sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar stresses the first reactions recorded among the Christians of the Syrian capital after a car bomb exploded in the Christian area of the Old Town causing 13 deaths and dozens of wounded.
Archbishop Nassar describes scenes of panic he witnessed, with parents running distressed “to look for their children in schools,” while the sirens of ambulances accentuate the unbearable feeling of living in an apocalyptic time. “Some of the faithful – he says – prayed the rosary, imploring Our Lady of Peace, before the Mass, which began with a 20 minute delay … I celebrated Mass on Sunday at 6 pm, for 23 people only, praying for the victims and for Muslims who in Syria are preparing to celebrate the Eid al Adha, on 26 October, in pain and silence.”
The neighborhood of Bab-Touma is a symbolic place for the martyrs of Christianity in Syria. Here – recalls Archbishop Nassar – in the same streets that St. Paul had to walk at the time of his conversion and baptism received by Ananias, “11,000 martyrs in 1860 reddened with their blood every square inch.” 
So far Bab-Touma had been spared by the violence that has disrupted Syria since March 15, 2011. Now – asks Nassar – what is the message they wanted to give with a planned massacre on Sunday, right in the Old Town, where the Christian churches are concentrated? “Is it gratuitous violence that knocks on the door to terrorize the last Christians already devastated?”
Before the terror and violence – concludes the Maronite Archbishop – the Christian announcement manifests itself more than ever as the “Cross of redemption, love and forgiveness.” And the Christians in Damascus and Syria need friendship and prayers on behalf of everyone to take charge of a condition marked by a “chaotic and bitter loneliness.” (GV) (Agenzia Fides 22/10/2012).


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