ASIA/SYRIA - Violence started from Goutha, the rebel district: appeal by the Trappist nuns for the end of the war

Monday, 5 March 2018 dialogue   wars   violence   peace   justice   orders   nuns  


Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - "When will weapons be silent? We, who live in Syria, are sickened by the general indignation that arises to condemn those who defend their lives and their land. We went to Damascus several times these months; we went after the rebel bombs had attacked a school, we were there a few days ago, the day after when, 90 missiles were launched from the suburb of Goutha, on the government part of the city. We listened to the children’s stories, the fear of leaving home and going to school, the terror of having to still see their classmates blown up in the air, children who cannot sleep at night, for the fear that a missile falls on their roof. Fear, tears, blood, death. Are these children not worthy of our attention too?". This is what the Trappist nuns who live in Azeir, a small Syrian village on the border with Lebanon, half way between Homs and Tartus say in a message sent to Agenzia Fides. Here stands the monastery of a small community of six Cistercian nuns (among them a Syrian novice), "humble presence of people who pray", as they define it. The six sisters expressly wanted to follow "the experience of our brothers of Tibhirine", the Trappist monks present in Algeria, then killed by terrorists.
The sisters add: "Why did public opinion not bat an eyelid, why didn’t anyone say anything, why were no humanitarian appeals launched for these innocent people? And why only when the Syrian government intervenes in favor of Syrian citizens, who feel defended by so much horror, one is indignant at the ferocity of the war?"
The analysis of the religious sisters highlights that "even when the Syrian army bombards there are women, children, civilians, injured or dead. And we pray for them too. Not only the civilians: we also pray for the jihadists, because every man who chooses evil is a lost child, is a mystery hidden in the heart of God. God does not want the death of the sinner, but he wants him to convert and remain alive". And adds: "In Damascus, the attacks on civilians living in the part controlled by the government started from the Goutha area, and not vice versa. The same Goutha where civilians who did not support the jihadists were put in iron cages: men, women, exposed outdoors and used as human shields. Goutha: the district where today the civilians who want to escape, and take refuge in the government controlled area, taking advantage of the truce granted, are targeted by rebel snipers". "Why, is there this blindness on behalf of the West? How is it possible for those who give information, even in the ecclesial context, is so one-sided?", highlights the text sent to Fides.
"We cannot be scandalized by the brutality of war and keep quiet about who wanted the war and still want it today, on the Governments that have poured their ever more powerful weapons in Syria in recent years; not to mention the mercenaries who deliberately were allowed to enter Syria from neighboring countries. We cannot keep quiet about the governments that have gained and gained from this war", continues the heartfelt appeal of the Trappists.
"We have not yet reached the goal - says the text - where the wolf and the lamb will live together. You can choose non-violence. But it is a personal choice, which can only bring into play the life of those who choose it, we cannot certainly ask this to a whole nation".
The last reflection of the nuns, referred to the Christians in Syria, is this: "Christ wants his followeres to be leaven in dough, that is the presence that little by little, from within, makes a situation grow and directs it towards the truth and the good. He supports it where it is to be sustained, he changes it where it is to be changed. With courage, without duplicity, but from within".
The war in Syria has wounded inter-religious coexistence in many parts but hope does not die: even if there is "great difficulty to forgive", the nuns conclude "we still live together, for the good of all: the many works of charity, relief, development run by Christians and Muslims together are a living proof". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/3/2018)