1 October 2014
Local residents stand next to the debris of a house hit by a mortar shell from the Syrian side of the border in Alanyurt village near the Turkish-Syrian border on 29 September. A Syrian priest on a U.S. mission trip says amid ongoing death and destruction in the Middle East, the Catholic Church continues to provide spiritual and material support for those in need.
(photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)
The military attacks on Syria are having a powerful impact on the lives of ordinary families:
After telling parishioners and students in the religious education program at Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. James Parish about what is happening in Syria, Father Rodrigo Miranda was impressed that a 13-year-old girl was one of the first to respond.
“She came up to me and immediately asked: ‘What can we do to help?’” said Father Miranda, a priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.
As the current pastor at the cathedral in Aleppo, Syria, Father Miranda is hoping that all Catholics would be just as quick to generously respond to the needs of fellow Christians in the Middle East.
For the past three years, he said, Aleppo has been embroiled in a violent civil war that has destroyed the once-thriving Syrian city that is home to about 2.5 million people. While the vast majority of inhabitants are Muslim, Father Miranda said there is a small contingent of Christians living in Aleppo. “A few years ago, I’d say maybe 15 percent of the population was Christian,” Father Miranda told The Anchor, newspaper of the Fall River diocese. “Now, I think it’s closer to 10 percent, if not less. We are clearly the minority within the community.”
He said that not only are Christians in the minority, they often find themselves caught in the middle of the warring factions on either side of the conflict. More than 70,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed and more than 3 million Syrians have been displaced since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. In addition, some 1.1 million people have taken refuge in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
“The problem is you have Palestinians on one side, Arabs on the other, and the Christians are stuck in the middle,” Father Miranda said. “Both sides have preconceptions about the other,” he added.
“People have their own beliefs and they don’t understand or appreciate the other’s style of life.” While “everyone receives some form of help from the United Nations,” Father Miranda said Christians must rely solely on the Catholic Church for support. “Our mission (in Syria) is to evangelize the culture,” Father Miranda said. “We are trying to bring Christ to the people. We go to the places where the church can’t go due to circumstances.”
Read more about what CNEWA is doing to help the men, women and children of Syria here. And to offer your support, visit this page.
1 October 2014
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, addresses the 69th U.N. General Assembly in New York on 29 September. (photo: CNS/Mike Segar, Reuters)
Dilemma for Iraqi Christians: stay or go? (Wall Street Journal) As America again gears up for deeper military involvement in the Middle East, many Chaldeans are engaged in a fateful debate: Either get as many people out of Iraq as possible to safe havens, such as the United States, or stay and fight, possibly with U.S. help. Iraq’s minority groups, including Christians, are more vocally pressing the Iraqi central government to set up militias to protect from Islamic militants. The militias would be part of a U.S.-backed plan for a national guard, but has met with resistance from Iraq’s government which fears militias may further destabilize the fragile country...
Holy See: World needs a revitalized United Nations (Vatican Radio) The conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine demand a revitalized United Nations where member states put their responsibility to protect persecuted peoples above personal interests and thoroughly apply international law, according to the Vatican Secretary of State...
Israelis rethink life along Gaza border after war (Wall Street Journal) The mortar shell hit the roof of the Tragerman family home in the last days of fighting between Israel and Hamas. Their cars were already packed to flee, but it was too late for their 4-year-old son Daniel who lay on the floor dead. Thousands fled Israel’s kibbutz communities during the 50-day conflict that turned the Gaza Strip and the border region inside Israel into a war zone, according to Kibbutz Movement, the group that represents the collectives and organized evacuations for those on the Gaza border. Most of them have since returned. But after the death of Daniel, the Tragerman family said it won't go back to the border...
Over 400 corpses found in mass grave in Ukraine (International Business Times) Some 400 bodies, mostly of civilians, were taken to the morgues of Donetsk and other cities in eastern Ukraine now controlled by pro-Russian rebel militias after they were retrieved from mass graves, the insurgents said on Monday. “Currently there are about 400 bodies in morgues, 350 of which are of civilians, and many are in such a state that they cannot be identified,” said the deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, Andrei Purgin...
Hostility toward refugees in Lebanon growing (Fides) “The effects of the uncontrolled influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon opens a disturbing scenario,” says the Rev. Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon. “The concern has reached the warning level. Among the local population, hostility towards refugees continues to grow, after arms were found in refugee camps...”
Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel