Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 01 March |
home iconNews
line break icon

What has happened to the Christians in Syria?

SYRIA

AFP PHOTO | DELIL SOULEIMAN

Pierre Macqueron-ACN News - published on 05/05/19

The Church in Syria is suffering from the "bleeding wound" of emigration.

The number of Christians in Aleppo, Syria, fell dramatically during the civil war, from 180,000 before the war to 32,000 today.Maronite Archbishop Joseph Tobji of Aleppo is the shepherd of a small community of about 400 families. He recently spoke with Aid to the Church in Need.

What is the situation in the city two years after Aleppo was recaptured by government forces?

In terms of safety, the situation has improved, even though bombs continue to fall. Several have been dropped on the fringes of Aleppo over the past few weeks. Therefore, the conflict has not actually ended yet.

However, what is raging now is more a war of economics. At the end of 2016, we thought that everyone would find work again and would be able to participate in rebuilding the city. We were surprised by the impact of the embargo and by the sanctions, which are hitting us even harder now.

Every day, we are plagued by power failures [16 hours a day]. The economy is not working and inflation is soaring. In addition, corruption in the country has reached record levels. It is easy to imagine the situation of the inhabitants of Aleppo. Today, the people are demotivated.

Is that the reason why so many are leaving the country?

We have lost a lot of resources and a lot of qualified workers. Emigration has become our bleeding wound. Even those who are still here are somewhere else in their hearts. The people dream of the paradise of the Western world.

However, when they arrive there, they find a different reality from what they expected. They are very surprised and very disappointed. They are disappointed here and disappointed there: that is the great tragedy. We still had hope in 2016—now many are succumbing to despair.

What is the Church doing to help people in need?

Young people want to go to other countries to find work. This is why I estimate that 40% of our Christian community is made up of older people, but there are only two or three homes for the elderly in Aleppo. We try to support them both socially and through pastoral care by making sure that they have access to medicine, psycho-social support, food, education and housing.

We have to strengthen the faith of the people, anchor them in this country, and encourage them to be witnesses of Christ, to be the salt of the earth and light of the world: we cannot allow our presence here to become insignificant.

We have lived through a particularly painful period of history: we are living in extraordinary circumstances. Now we need to deal with them appropriately. To this end, we recently organized the first Synod of Catholic bishops in Aleppo last week.

What would you like to say to donors of Aid to the Church in Need?

In the name of all the Christians in Aleppo, I would like to thank them for their assistance, which carries us and strengthens our hope. Thank you with all of my heart.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. For more information, visit www.churchinneed.org

Tags:
Syria
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Top 10
1
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
2
MADONNA
V. M. Traverso
The 9 oldest images of Mary
3
SEARCHNG PURSE
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things every Catholic woman should have in her purse
4
Jacques Fesch
Brother Silas Henderson, SDS
Meet the Death Row prisoner who discovered a ...
5
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
6
CELEBRITY MARRIAGES
Cerith Gardiner
10 Celebrities whose marriages have stood the test of time
7
RECONSTRUCTED CHRIST
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.