By Msgr Antoine Audo, Caritas Syria president
We’re entering the fourth year of what’s now called the Syrian crisis.
Should we refer to it as an anniversary, a word normally used primarily to celebrate moments of joy and happy memories. Yet this war that surrounds us within and outside Syria is a paradoxical place that leads us as much towards reflection as to action.
I would like to take this opportunity to send you a message on behalf of Caritas. We wish to share our sorrows and joys with you. We wish to thank you. We wish to ask you to understand what’s happening in Syria.
And we ask you to keep on believing in the possibility of peace and reconciliation.
For three years we’ve been immersed in a war brought about at local, regional and international level by denominational, economic and strategic interests, which is destroying the country and causing great bloodshed.
Fear and anxiety in the face of extremists of all kinds, unemployment, poverty and ever-increasing hardship have disheartened us, unconsciously bidding us to enter the circle of violence, in our hearts as well as in our behaviour.
Yet Caritas Syria, with its 200 members of staff and volunteers, serving around 300,000 people and 50,000 families, provides an everyday experience that enables us to get through the violence in a different way.
At Caritas, while Syria is destroying and dividing itself, we’re called on, first of all as Christians and then as Syrians, to enter into a process of communion and commitment.
While an unequivocal language that generates a desire for power holds sway in the country, at Caritas, with the young people serving the poor and the displaced, and with all those to whom we offer our humanitarian assistance, we’re learning a new language.
With our projects we try to look at reality objectively, and in our way of approaching people we aim to respect their dignity whoever they may be.
As we enter the fourth year of the Syrian war, Caritas Syria celebrates anniversary with hope; as Christians belonging to different Churches, we’re experiencing communion.
When we stop looking at ourselves to defend our own interests, when we get out of ourselves to welcome the richness and beauty of the Churches, together we become more and more Christian.
Caritas, in the service of all Syrians, especially our Muslim brothers and sisters, those of different denominations and all ethnic groups, strengthens an attitude of true citizenship within us.
Thank you to our Caritas supporters who accompany our efforts to build a fraternal society of mutual respect.