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Prelate describes suffering, desperation in Damascus

Catholic World News - July 19, 2012

Syria’s capital has become a place of fear, desperation, and suffering, according to the city’s Maronite Catholic archbishop.

“On the streets of Damascus you see people fleeing, there are refugees who, desperate, cross the city in search of a refuge,” said Archbishop Samir Nassar. “The lack of charity structures, the embargo, and the limited resources available do not help to face this emergency and contribute to fueling anxiety.”

He continued:

In this period of mindless violence, our voices are drowned by the long ordeal of the country and by a complexity that is blocking any diplomatic solution. The country is sinking in sorrow and gratuitous violence and there is still no end in sight, we have been in a protracted conflict for more than 16 months.

Beyond the political divisions, unemployment and insecurity have favored the terrible phenomenon of people kidnapped for ransom. They are often abducted from school or factory. One should see the panic and anxiety of families struggling to collect from relatives, neighbors, friends and parishes a sum of money sufficient to save a kidnapped son, brother or father. This horrible practice paralyzes social life.

“We note that faith has weakened, children no longer go to catechism and pastoral activities languish,” Archbishop Nassar added. “Many Christian families, terrified, think only about how to leave the country.”

“The Christian community, exhausted, turns in silence and prayer to … the three brothers, Francesco, Abdel-Mooti, and Raffaele Massabki, Maronite Catholic laity [beatified in 1926] and martyred during the persecution unleashed by the Turks in 1860 against the Church. They remind us of what Jesus said: Do not fear.”

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