A view inside the damaged Mar Assia al-Hakim Church in Aleppo, northern Syria, 2 February 2017. The church, that was constructed in 1500, was among several historical sites damaged in the fighting in Aleppo. (Photo by YOUSSEF BADAWI/ EPA/ Newscom/ MaxPPP)
(2021.12.21 La Croix International staff | Syria)
It will free the local Church from the temptation to withdraw into oneself and not stand paralyzed in the face of anti-Christian violence, says apostolic vicar for Catholics of the Latin rite
The synodal process initiated by Pope Francis for the universal Church can become a period to discover new paths for mission in Catholic communities of Syria ravaged by war, says the bishop of Aleppo.It will also free the local Catholic Church from the temptation to withdraw into oneself and to stand paralyzed in the face of anti-Christian persecution, said Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for Catholics of the Latin rite.
Bishop Abou Khazen said he considers the synodal journey will bring about concrete solutions to the problems that beset daily life in Syria, where even in areas far removed from armed conflict, economic conditions are getting more difficult every day.
He also pointed out that thesynodal model followed in the process which will involve the whole Catholic Church through the 2021-2023 Synod on Synodality: Communion, Participation, and Mission, is not new.It is a model from the first churches of Christianity where the baptized share with priests and bishops the joint responsibility for future mission.
Even in the condition of suffering and precariousness which marks the post-war period in Syria, thousands of lay people did not remain idle and who testified with their lives that the mission of proclaiming the Gospel and by consoling and helping those who suffer is not a “business” reserved for the clergy, he said.
“They have shown that difficult circumstances are not necessarily an opportunity and a justification for withdrawing into oneself and locking oneself in crippling and sad apathy,” the bishop said.Moreover, this year’s Christmas, “which we celebrate as part of the Synod’s journey reminds us that God does not come to us while we are still and stable, but as we walk… We must not let circumstances paralyze us and prevent us from walking and asking”, Bishop Abou Khazen said, according to Fides.Syria’s civil war began in 2011 as a peaceful uprising against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
It has since escalated with groups from all over the world represented at the frontline — shattering the lives of Syrians, destroying their cities and becoming the world’s most terrible place of ongoing warfare and where over half of all Syrians have fled their homes.Amid this dramatic situation faced by the whole Syrian population, Christian leaders have often sounded the alarm over the local Church’s survival.
Aleppo has long been a martyred city. In the years since the outbreak of fighting in Syria, it has been at the heart of the clashes.Since the war, two-thirds of the city’s residents have left the once bustling economic hub whose pre-war population was over 4 million.The exodus has been even greater among its diverse Christian population. All Christian communities combined, a total of 40,000, remain in Aleppo. There used to be ten times that number.Most of them are elderly. Most of the younger Christians have fled the war torn country.
Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/synodal-process-will-strengthen-church-in-syria-says-aleppo-bishop/15395