Thursday, August 23, 2012

12,000 Greek-Catholics Trapped in Syrian Village

A Greek Catholic Church in Damascus, Syria

 Over 12,000 faithful Greek-Catholics are trapped in the Syrian village of Rableh, west of Qusayr, in the area of Homs, Agenzia Fides, the news service of the Pontifical Mission Society reports August 23.  Food is scarce, the faithful are living on "bread and water", medicine is lacking to treat the sick and wounded. This is the alarm raised by local sources of Fides that invoke respect for humanitarian law, that confirm what the international press is reporting on the situation in Rableh.

For more than ten days the village of  Rableh is subject to a strict blockade by armed opposition groups, which surround it on all sides. One of the leaders of a local parish, B.K., who requested anonymity for security reasons, told Fides that a few days ago three young men of the village were killed by snipers: George Azar 20 years old, another 21 years old, Elias Tahch Semaan, 35 years old, married and father of four children.

Some representatives of the popular initiative for reconciliation "Mussalaha" were able to carry a small load of humanitarian aid to the village. A representative of "Mussalaha" assured the faithful by claiming that "everything will be done to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid."

An appeal was launched by His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, visibly moved, to all men of good will so that "Rableh is saved and all other villages affected in Syria, and finally for peace to be reached in our beloved country." Even the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, His Exc. Mgr. Mario Zenari, called on all parties involved "to the strict observance of the international humanitarian law", pointing out that the resolution of the crisis in Syria depends first of all on its citizens.

Fides Agency has learned, too, that the Greek-Catholic monastery of St. James the Mutilated in Qara, which currently houses a community of 25 people from nine countries and twenty refugees, in recent days was hit by the bombing of a helicopter which intended to hit some rebel groups. No victim, but different parts of the monastery, dating from the sixth century a.C., were damaged. The Superior of the monastery, Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix raised her voice to that of the local hierarchy, demanding an end to violence and "to adopt the logic of dialogue and reconciliation." Local Christian leaders ask the warring parties to spare the areas where civilians live and to safeguard the cultural and religious heritage of the country.

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