SYRIA Damascus, Archbishop Nassar: Christian families ‘heroic amid endless suffering

In his Christmas message, the Maronite archbishop recalls 11 years of war, sanctions, misery and migration. The commitment of the people to live “with dignity” despite the many problems, austerity and long isolation. Families “poor and cold” like in the manger of Bethlehem remain “firm in the faith”.  

SYRIA Damascus, Archbishop Nassar: Christian families ‘heroic amid endless suffering

Damascus (AsiaNews) – For 11 years Syrian Christians (and others) have been “a heroic family” that has courageously endured “a war, compounded by sanctions, blockades, migration, misery, death and indifference,” writes Msgr Samir Nassar, Maronite Archbishop of Damascus,  in his Christmas message to the faithful. The entire community is preparing for the festive season despite the many unresolved problems, noted in the document which was also sent to AsiaNews.

Msgr Nassar praises the families who “pursue the effort to live with dignity”, despite being more often than not alone “in this struggle against problems and in the face of suffering that seems to have no end”. He recalls “the endless exodus of peoples, violence and death” that have characterised Syria’s recent history.

The families, he adds, have tried to “adapt” to a life of “austerity” that they did not know before, aggravated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and have continued to struggle, and to generate, giving birth to new nuclei that are signs of hope. They resemble ‘a refugee’ in the midst of an ‘enormous chaos’ of ‘lack of electricity, fuel, food, medicine and even work’ combined with the ‘collapse’ of the local economy and currency. 

For too long Syrians, especially the civilian population who had no role or interest in the conflict, have had to suffer unjust collective punishment due to international sanctions and the US-imposed Caesar Act, which are the main causes of the crisis, hunger and poverty added to a decade of war. The common and widespread feeling is that of exiles in their own land, but there is no lack of optimistic and hopeful views of the future. From this point of view, the prospect of a resumption of international tourism after a long period of marginalisation and isolation, net of the global health emergency, can be read. 

Yesterday, an air raid by the Israeli air force – one of many in the country’s recent history – in southern Syria killed a soldier. Previously, Israeli fighter jets had hit the port city of Latakia. In the meantime, international diplomacy is struggling to reach an agreement between the government in Damascus and the many faces of the opposition to establish a peaceful transition that could lead to a new Constitution and general elections.  

Despite the difficulties, the Syrian family “remains steadfast in the faith” that is the only way “to overcome the difficulties and miseries” it is still facing. “The child [Jesus] who is about to be born,” the prelate concluded, “will be filled with the warm welcome he will receive in each of these shattered families, poor and cold as in the manger of Bethlehem”.

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