“Today in Beirut, in occasion of the Pope’s visit in Lebanon, the Bishops of Aleppo will speak with their absence, testifying the tragedy that is unfolding just a few kilometers away”, said to MISNA Monsignor Mario Zenari, Apostolic nuncio in Syria, referring that not all Syrian Bishops will be able to be present in Beirut, where today Pope Benedict XVI will sign the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation.
“I will also not be attending, save for any last minute changes, but our absence will speak for us. The Syrian Bishops wrote a letter to the Pope to apologize and express their nearness, but it is impossible to leave Aleppo without risk. The roads are unsafe, as also the airport, and it is also the duty of the Bishops to share in the suffering of the people, bearing with them the clashes and fighting in hope that they will soon end”, added Monsignor Zenari.
From the city under siege, the Greek, Syriac, Armenian, Chaldean and Latin Bishops launched an appeal to the Pontiff to stress to the international community the urgency of a peaceful solution and end to the conflict “that is destroying the country”.
Syria is not the focus of the Pope’s visit, but in Lebanon it is felt as if in their own home, given to the geographic and cultural closeness and common history.
“The topic of coexistence will undoubtedly be addressed and it was among the focuses of the Synod, in which discussions took place on relations between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Syria in this sense has a great and secular tradition that this war fortunately still hasn’t touched: terms such as Christianophobia and Islamophobia are not in the Syrian dictionary”, explained Monsignor Zenari.
The reality however remains of a conflict that is a growing burden on the lives of the people. “This is why the Bishops will remain in Aleppo, as also in other areas of conflict. They feel the duty to remain alongside their people. Even under the bombs”, concluded the Apostolic nuncio in Syria.