ASIA/SYRIA - The Bishop of Aleppo: the meeting between Francis and Kirill is also the fruit of our suffering. And this comforts us

Friday, 12 February 2016 ecumenicalism  

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - "The meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill is perceived by Christians as the fruit of the cross they are experiencing. The suffering of all Christians in the Middle East bears the fruit of unity. This for us is a great consolation and helps us to move forward, even if we still have to suffer". This is how Bishop Georges Abou Khazen OFM, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite, describes to Agenzia Fides the feelings among the Christians of his city, while the news on the meeting in Cuba between the Bishop of Rome and the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church is mixed with those of a possible, imminent ceasefire in the Syrian war.
"A few days ago", added the Franciscan Bishop "a senior representative of the Moscow Patriarchate explicitly said that what made Cuba's meeting urgent was the common concern for the suffering of fellow Christians in the Middle East. We have also spoken about this in sermons and in our meetings: the faithful feel they have more courage when they realize that their sufferings have to do with the unity between the separated brethren, where Christ embraces us and comforts us all".
The Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo also shows the expectations raised in the population by the news of a possible, imminent ceasefire imposed on the parties involved in the Syrian conflict: "For us", says to Fides Bishop Abou Khazen "it would be a dream. Jihadist groups remain the unknown factor. We know that most are foreigners: who controls them? Will they adhere to the truce?". The apostolic Vicar also provides first-hand news on the situation in Aleppo: "The regular army advances with the help of Russians, and in the liberated districts there is water and light, schools are reopening. In many situations the possibility of reconciliation is offered to the Syrians that were linked with the rebel groups. The militia fighters controlled by foreigners are those who still impose resistance and war. And among the population appreciation for the role carried out by the Russians prevails". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 12/02/2016)