“May the sick be cured, hope be reborn, and the desert blossom! I ask this of God, for you and with you”: This is the wish expressed by Pope Francis to members of the “Open Hospitals” initiative in Syria, carried by the AVSI association, whom he received on September 3, 2022, at the Vatican.
He thanked the supporters of this humanitarian enterprise born “from the creativity of charity.”
This project aims to support three hospitals and four outpatient centers. It is sponsored by the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and financed by several ecclesiastical institutions, including the Papal Foundation, by episcopal conferences, and by the Hungarian and Italian governments.
In the presence of Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria for the past 14 years, the Pope deplored the “number of the dead and wounded, the destruction of entire quarters and villages, as well as important infrastructures, including healthcare institutions.”
“It is natural to ask: ‘Syria, who can now heal you?’” he said.
Comparing the plight of “some 14 million internally displaced persons and refugees” to the biblical episode of the flight from Egypt, he called the Syrian conflict one of the most serious crises in the world.
“In the face of such immense suffering, the Church is called to be a ‘field hospital’ and to heal wounds both physical and spiritual,” assured the head of the Catholic Church.
He thus paid tribute to the initiative of these hospitals, considering that the fruits reaped are double because “people’s bodies will be cared for and the social fabric will be mended by fostering the exemplary coexistence between different ethnic and religious groups that is characteristic of Syria.”