Christmas message from Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart in Syria
Here we are, for a fifth year now, celebrating the Feast of the Nativity as bombs are raining down. I do not know how many of you have lived through such a depressing and sad experience, but I can assure you it is painful to spend this beautiful time, so ardently awaited each year, amidst shortages and lack of security or electricity and, to top things off, cut off from the rest of the world by a strict and very tight boycott. It gives me still more reason to step out from these confines, if only for a few moments, to draw in some fresh and pleasant air in writing to you these words from the heart, invested with all the affection I have for you!
It must be said, I am pained by the knowledge of the great tragedy that struck our innocent brothers and sisters in France and I ask the Lord to spare Europe this infernal suffering, because this experience we are living, because of the terrorists, is terrible, not to say, deeply wounding and unbearable. We don’t wish it on anyone, not even our enemies, and it always the innocent who bear the brunt. May Almighty God have pity on all of us and he may cause friendship to reign among men, mercy in our hearts and peace among all the peoples on earth.
Despite everything, we are carrying on in this most difficult situation ever to brave the storm that is lashing our poor faithful, who are reduced to poverty and I would even say utter misery. We are doing everything we can to sustain them and help them in this adversity that is killing them pitilessly. We do our utmost to remain at their side and relieve their suffering, while giving them courage. Our humanitarian initiatives are proceeding apace. We are giving financial support, scholarships, medical care, food aid, hygienic supplies to thousands of people. This year we launched a program that provides water to homes and a for a good number of particularly vulnerable families we have installed cisterns that hold more than a 100 gallons of waters to give them a reserve supply; and a team of young people is making sure that elderly have access to drinkable water in their homes. We also managed to hook up a number of poor families to generators that are supplying electricity to paying customers. Last but not least, we just launched a center for professional training and formation for the construction trade, and we have begun the repair of numerous homes damaged in bombing attacks. A thousand families will take advantage this year of the fuel we bought them so that they could heat their homes.
I could continue with a long list, but I prefer to conclude by saying that it is because of you, the generosity of donors, that my co-workers and I have been able to do all this to relieve the suffering of these thousands of Christians held hostage in their homes and city.
During these blessed days, we will not fail to think of you and the goodness you continue to show toward us in this time of great trial. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you a joyful Christmas and a very good new year full of peace, health and joy!
Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart