ASIA/SYRIA - Men and women consecrated together to bear witness to Christ in the midst of the tribulations of the Syrian people

Tuesday, 18 January 2022 middle east   local churches   consecrated life   mission   area crisis   synodality

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – More than seventy consecrated Catholics, men and women, have gathered in Damascus in recent days to discuss and reflect together on the present and the future of their vocation lived in a Syria brought to its knees by the war, which continues to represent a fragile fault line on which conflicts and tensions between regional and global powers that compete for control of the Middle East are discharged. The meeting, organized by the Damascene headquarters of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchate from January 17 to 19, is the first opportunity to take stock of the mission of consecrated Catholics in Syria, called to bear witness to Christ in a context still populated by the ghosts of the war and marked by the economic sanctions imposed by the West to hit the government apparatus headed by Bashar Assad. The opening session of the meeting also saw the participation, among others, of Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus (who handed over to the participants the message sent to them in the name of the Pope by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life) and Franciscan Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for Catholics of the Latin rite and president of the Episcopal Committee for Consecrated Life in Syria. Annie Leon Demiregian, member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, recalled that all consecrated men and women, according to their vocation, are also called to grasp the "signs of the times", according to the teaching of Jesus. At a time when we are living under the pressure of so many emergencies that mark daily life in Syria", she noted in her speech, also summarized on the Arab website, "it can, in some ways, be easier to perceive what is really needed to accompany and heal the wounded lives of so many people, witnessing together in deeds the liberation and consolation promised by Jesus but every human being. Several speakers, including Cardinal Zenari and Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, underlined that the meeting of consecrated persons gathered in Damascus is an eloquent sign of the participation of the baptized of the Catholic Church in Syria in the synodal journey which began with a view to the next general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for 2023. During the most violent years of the Syrian conflict, the consecrated men and women of the Catholic Church bore witness to Christ by sharing with the Syrian people the sufferings, difficulties and tribulations, even to the shedding of blood. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 18/1/2022)