Only the poorest Christians remain in Syria
“Christian families that have remained are the poorest “ stated Mgr Denys Antoine Chahda, Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo ,because those who had the opportunity left the country . “Before the war my diocese had 1,500 households, now only 800 are left.” Many Syrian Christians who have fled abroad wish to return after the war. However, the archbishop admitted that anyone “who has since found work or started to send their children to school in another country is unlikely to return.”
Most of the few remaining Christians are surviving in dire poverty, with 750 households out of 800 relying on aid from the Church for clothes, food, medicine and even a financial contribution for the purchase of basic necessities, such as diesel fuel. Winter is very cold in Aleppo and since the city has been without electricity for several months, the fuel is the only way families can keep warm. “The few resources available do not allow us to cater to the many needs of our members” says Bishop Chahda.
Beside the lack of electricity and water, many families in Aleppo lost their homes during the fighting and the Church had to provide accommodation for the faithful, even making use of churches and convents in some cases. “The bombing did not spare the cathedral, nor the Syrian Catholic archbishop, but fortunately the churches of the diocese are still viable and popular.Every day we celebrate Mass” said the archbishop.
As Christmas approaches, Mgr Chahda worries about the many Christian families his church is trying to support. “I hope that the international community help the Church to live in Syria and to take care of the faithful who are now dying of hunger, thirst, because of war and disease. And that this war may end as soon as possible, so that we can finally return to our lives. “