Syria: Aleppo renews its consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
In a message published May 2nd, 2016, by Vatican news agency Fides, the Catholic bishops of Aleppo addressed words of comfort and hope to their flock: “We are sons of the Resurrection, sons of Hope, and we firmly believe that these sufferings will not be lost. Like the saints and martyrs, we unite them to the Passion of Christ so that they may become sanctified and sanctifying sufferings for peace in Syria and the salvation of our city.” Without becoming “overcome by sorrow and despair,” [we understand this as] “the chief significance of our continued presence in Aleppo.” For these reasons, the Catholic pastors renew the consecration of Aleppo to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who “in her apparitions at Fatima asked for the world to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in order to obtain peace.” The bishops asked the faithful, in this month of May dedicated to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, to offer “prayers, especially the rosary, in our churches for this intention: that we may convert to God, begging the intercession of the Queen of Peace, and putting the country of Syria and the city of Aleppo under her protection.”
On March 23, 2016, the morning after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, Syro-Catholic Archbishop of Hassake-Nisibi (Syria), shared his analysis of the situation with Fides: “Unfortunately, the innocent population is reaping what European circles and powers have sown in Syria and in Iraq in recent years.” The archbishop condemned a number of European leaders for having, up until recently, had as their chief geopolitical goal the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s government, attempting to recognize the jihadi militants of al-Nusra as “moderate Islamists”, all the while claiming that Russian military strikes ought to limit themselves to attacking only the so-called Islamic State (IS). Moreover, specified Archbishop Hindo, “European leaders and the entire Occident” consider economic and oil-related interests to be paramount “with Saudi Arabia and the other Emirates of the Arabic peninsula. Over the last few decades, they have guaranteed these countries the opportunity to fund in all of Europe, including in Belgium, the development of a network of mosques in which Wahhabism is preached, the ideology that infects Islam and constitutes the ideological basis for all the jihadi groups.” The Syro-Catholic Archbishop emphasizes that “Europe, on the refugee question, has chosen to become the hostage of Turkey,” and clarifies that “the evacuees welcomed in Europe in 2015 do not make up more than 0.2% of the population, whereas in a small country such as Lebanon they make up more than half the local population,” recalling that “over the last five years, thousands of Syrians, Moslems and Christians, men, women and children, have been killed, and there are no tears for them.”
On April 24, 2016, Islamist militants linked to al-Nusra, in turn affiliated with al-Qaeda, shelled the mostly Christian city of Sqelbiya in northwestern Syria, Fides reported, according to Kurdish sources. The following day, Lebanese daily L’Orient-Le Jour added that since December 2015 the United States had delivered 3000 tons of weapons and munitions to rebel groups who were either infiltrated by al-Qaeda on the ground or had sworn allegiance to the terrorist organization. Experience teaches, according to L’Orient-Le Jour, that over the last three years, the supply of American armaments to groups considered “moderate” went largely to al-Nusra; and, according to the evidence of the former leader of rebel group Jahbat Thowar Suriyya, an informal agreement concluded between local combatants and al-Nusra obliged them to transfer over half of the arms received to the latter.
On April 29th, the Armenian Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Archbishop Boutros Marayati, exposed to Fides the tragic fate of his people and his city, where the Syrian conflict has reignited with violence: the central areas of Aleppo, under control of the Syrian army, were controlled by the rebels. According to Archbishop Marayati, the fate of Aleppo and the Syrian people lies in the hands of the great powers: “The end of the conflict depends on the United States, Russia, and other powers in the region. Only they can force all parties involved in this filthy war to bring it to an end, setting aside interests and hidden plans that continue to feed the massacre.”
“The fighting has now been massively reinforced. It is very serious, especially since Saturday April 23rd. The situation of the people is catastrophic. There are so many deaths and injuries. I hope for a halt to the escalation of violence, but already now things are very serious. If the fighting continues as it has been, even more Christians will leave Aleppo,” said Archbishop Antoine Audo, Chaldean Archbishop of Aleppo, to Aid to the Church in Need. And if “before the war, Aleppo was home to over 150,000 Christians of different confessions, today over two-thirds of them are displaced persons in their own country, or have taken refuge abroad, in Lebanon but also in Western countries. Those who remain are chiefly the elderly and the poor.” Archbishop Jean- Clément Jeanbart, archbishop of Aleppo, specified to Aleteia on April 28, “Aleppans sense that a major offensive is approaching and are profoundly concerned. Approximately a million persons are still in the city.”
(Sources: Fides -- kipa-apic.ch – iMedia – L’Orient-Le Jour – Aleteia – DICI no. 335, 06/05/16)
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