ASIA/SYRIA-The Orthodox Church: Easter was not celebrated in Homs, stop to violence

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - Orthodox Easter in Homs, which fell on April 15, was not celebrated: as reported to Fides by representatives of the Orthodox Church in Homs that officially stated that there were not any Easter liturgies. The few remaining Christians in the city, in fact, (less than a thousand) were trapped by the prolonged bombing and had no chance to reach the churches, many of which, among other things, were destroyed or damaged by the fighting. The non-celebration of Easter in Homs, notes a source of Fides, "was a painful fact that should sensitize the warring sides and international community to put an end to violence." In Homs also the Latin Christians Easter, on April 8, coincided with a period of heavy bombardment and was celebrated in obscurity. The Jesuit community held a small celebration with a few faithful, while the church of "Our Lady of Peace", the greek Catholics, was severely damaged and remains closed.
Currently in Homs troops and heavy artillery of the Syrian government occupy the city center and, despite the acceptance of the Un peace plan and cease-fire, firefights with the opposition forces continue in the city.
Christian families in the city, who find themselves in the crossfire, "think only to stay alive and pray that this nightmare will end soon," notes the source of Fides. The Syrian people are frustrated by the long crisis and the exodus of refugees towards Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey continues.
The condition of the Christian faithful is at risk, says the source of Fides, because "under the current regime, they were protected, and therefore some consider them to be aligned with the regime. This makes them vulnerable to attacks by revolutionary or by not well identified forces." The Christians in Syria are also concerned about the plight of Christians in countries like Iraq and Egypt, where, in the aftermath of the change of regime, the faithful are victims of attacks. In Syria, Christianity has been present for two thousand years. About 1.2 million Christians of different denominations lived in the country before the conflict. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/4/2012)

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