ASIA/SYRIA - Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims united in concern and prayers for the Pope

Friday, 4 March 2005

Damascus (Fides Service) - In Syria, where the Pope’s landmark visit to the Great Mosque in Damascus (6 May 2001) is still a vivid memory, Orthodox Christians and Muslims are united with Catholics in concern and prayers for the Pope, Archbishop Isidore Battikha Auxiliary of the Greek Melkite Patriarchate of Damascus told Fides.
The Pope is respected and admired by Syrians and despite general concern for the situation of political tension people are genuinely concerned for his health. “It is remarkable - said Mgr. Isidore - to see that the Pope is appreciated and held in high esteem by all believers. Everyone was deeply impressed by the visit he paid to the Great Mosque in Damascus. A few days ago a group of Muslim Sheikhs came to inquire about the Pope’s health. They asked us to send him best wishes for a speedy recovery and to assure him of their prayers”.
Other Christians in Syria are offering prayers for the Holy Father. “Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV has voiced his concern and sympathy and assured his prayers for the Pope whom he highly esteems. In his office he has a photo taken as he and the Pope embraced. His attitude facilitates ecumenical relations” the Archbishop told Fides.
“Needless to say the entire Catholic community here is praying for the Pope. Our Patriarch Gregory III Laham sent a letter to parishes encouraging people to pray for the Pope to comfort him at this time of trial. The Pope is our Shepherd and we Catholics in Syria are in communion with him in prayer”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 4/3/2005 righe 27 parole 275)