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Syrian prelate: 'If you want to help us, help us stay in our homes'
Must we forget that Saul was converted on the road to Damascus? Wasn't he baptized, confirmed and ordained a priest and sent on his great mission in the world by the Church of Syria that had its beginnings in Damascus?
By Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart
At the time of this writing, Aleppo is undergoing a massive assault by jihadists, and bombs have been falling for hours. It is as if everything is being done to scare people and push them to leave. Must it be recalled that we have been fighting fiercely for years against this phenomenon of emigration—which weakens us and which compromises the presence of the Church of the Apostles in the land that saw the very beginnings of Christianity?
Must we forget that Saul was converted on the road to Damascus? Wasn’t he baptized, confirmed and ordained a priest and sent on his great mission in the world by the Church of Syria that had its beginnings in Damascus? This Church, which has given up millions of martyrs, and which have irrigated with their innocent blood the soil of our country! This Church, which for century after century has raised the most faithful Christians—faithful, to the point of death, to Jesus Christ; doesn’t this Church deserve to be helped and supported so that it can continue its two-thousand year journey on the path of the Christian faith?
For us bishops, successors of the Apostles and shepherds of the faithful in Syria, acting to further the continuation of the Christian presence in the country is a huge responsibility and a sacred task—on imposed upon us by our belonging to the line of the Apostles, founders of this Church cherished by the Lord. This Church was blessed by the Grace of His Merciful Spirit, from its birth in Jerusalem on the very day of Pentecost, when thousands of Syrian Jews, having come to the city on a pilgrimage to attend the feast, were baptized by Peter and the Apostles themselves (Acts 2:41).
We do all that we can to allow the faithful to live on in this time of great trial in which humanitarian aid has become a priority. We stay close to them to give them courage. We try to give them reasons to believe in a brighter future in this country. To give our words more power and our material support more heft, we have launched the initiative “Build to Stay,” a movement that aims to bring together a great number of faithful who are convinced of the importance of our presence in this country.
Together, we want to convey a message of optimism, one that encourages perseverance; together we want to establish a program of development and concrete aid to benefit small businesses, and rebuild small workshops, as well as repair homes that have been damaged and rendered uninhabitable.
If you want to help us, pray with us for an end to this war. If you want to help us, fight to bring peace to our land. If you want to help us, help us support those Christians who have decided to stay to ensure the perennial Christians presence in the country. If you want to help us, help us accompany these faithful in their battle against defeat and in their efforts to “Build to Stay.”
Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart is the Melkite Metropolitan of Aleppo, Syria
Celebration marking the launch of "Build to Stay;" Photo courtesy Melkite Archdiocese of Aleppo