Al Quaryatayn, Syria                                                                                                       27.05.2015


Following the abduction of Father Jacques in Syria his brother calls for prayer

 Königstein/Damascus, 27.05.2015. Following the abduction of the Catholic monk Jacques Mourad and a companion on Thursday last week, the feeling of dismay in Syria is profound. Talking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need, one of his brothers called for prayer. “Please pray for Father Jacques and his companion, as well as for our community. Armed masked men took both of them away. We don’t know who it was and where our brothers are at this moment. We’re totally in the dark,” said Father Jihad Youssef of the Catholic order of Mar Musa, of which Father Jacques is also a member.

“In the monastery of Mar Elian in Qaryatayn Father Jacques dedicated himself to the people suffering from the consequences of the Syrian war. In particular he set great store by renovation projects to enable people to live again in their houses, which had been destroyed. But the psychological care of people in the war and other emergency humanitarian aid were also important to him. For years he had cared for war refugees,” Father Jihad explained. “Father Jacques made no distinction between Christians or Muslims. He helped anyone in distress.” For years Father Jacques’ work has been supported by Aid to the Church in Need.

Only recently Father Jacques approached Aid to the Church in Need in an email to thank it for its proven support, which amounted to date to more than 100,000 euros. And it was in this mail that he also explained his motivation. “Our efforts to help the hard-pressed and suffering Muslims in our area is nothing other than the expression of the position of the Church, which sees itself as inseparably connected with the image of Christ crucified. Our witness today is a reflex of the light emanating from the Cross, heralding a new dawn of the hope of resurrection for the whole of humanity.”

The head of the Middle East department of Aid to the Church in Need, Father Andrzej Halemba, has meanwhile described the abduction of Father Jacques as a disgrace. “Once again we are experiencing an example of blind hatred. Father Jacques always helped all people, be they Christians or Muslims. He helped everyone, but never took sides. Why should such a man be abducted? We can see once again how the war is claiming the best people. Father Jacques is a spiritual leader of Christians and Muslims. People of both religions look up to him and trust him.”

Father Halemba is currently in Syria to visit projects supported by Aid to the Church in Need and to form an impression of the state of affairs there. “The situation is terrible. In Al Qusair near the Lebanese border I travelled through a ghost town. The extent of the destruction conjures up apocalyptic images. Everywhere you can see the madness of war,”said Halemba. “On the other hand there are also signs of life and hope. I met many Christians who are also trying to live their faith under these circumstances.” Father Halemba was evidently impressed, for example, by a father of three who refused to leave the country. “He told me that he didn’t want to go to Europe, but that he wished to follow his Christian vocation in his homeland of Syria. I was also moved by the joy shown by the 51 children who were able to receive Holy Communion for the first time in the old city of Homs. And in Yabrud schoolchildren attending an event appealed to all those responsible for the war not to rob them of their future any longer. The children and young people in particular are full of the will to live. This visit once again strengthened my belief that we must absolutely help the people in Syria to retain a little hope despite all the distress.”

Aid to the Church in Need is especially active in the Middle East. More than twelve million euros have been spent since the end of 2011 on helping the Christians in Syria and Iraq. Aid to the Church in Need recently made available two million euros for humanitarian aid in Syria.


Oliver Maksan,