Friday, December 30, 2016

Pope Francis receives letter from Latin Parish of Aleppo in Syria

The Latin Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo, Syria has sent a letter to Pope Francis ahead of the World Day of Peace, asking the Holy Father for his Apostolic Blessing for the many children there who have known only war.

Syrian government forces recaptured Aleppo from rebel groups earlier this month after a prolonged air assault.

The letter – sent on 28 December and signed by the parish priest, Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh – describes the suffering of children and their efforts of prayer for peace.

Fr. Alsabagh said children are those who suffer most from the ongoing civil war.

“Some of them know no other life than war. Others were born under bombings. They suffer enormous psychological pressure, malnutrition, lack of water and electricity, adequate medical care, and are cold and hungry. 

Rarely,” the letter reads, “ does a smile appear on their faces. Suffering comes through in their frightened eyes. They live in distress for years. They wake up under the sound of explosions, bombs, and rockets in response to the fact that you never know where they will fall. And always to the detriment of the civilian population, without distinction.”

Fr. Alsabagh then thanked Pope Francis for his message of ‘nonviolence’ in his letter for the World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on 1 January every year.

He said, “Throughout this war, we seek ways to be ambassadors of forgiveness. Jesus taught us this attitude by his example. He has forgiven his killers.”

The Latin Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo celebrates the Eucharist on the first Sunday of each month for peace and an end to the war. Fr. Alsabagh said that theses Masses are an opportunity to “pray for those who hit and kill.”

When all means of recourse have been exhausted, he concluded, “convinced of God’s love and power, we use the only effective weapons that we have: love, truth, and prayer.”

Please find below the full text of the letter:

Your Holiness,

We, the Latin parish of St. Francis in Aleppo, thank you for your message addressed to us in your letter for the celebration of the 50th World Day of Peace.

The 1st of January 2017 is, by divine harmony, the first Sunday of the month. In our parish every first Sunday of the month at 11 a.m., we celebrate the Eucharist with children for peace in Aleppo, in Syria, and in the world. 

Father General Michael Perry, OFM, and Father Francesco Patton Custos of the Holy Land in their message for the advent for this year, have transformed this initiative into an invitation to the whole Church throughout the world and to all people of good will, to organize the moments of prayer each 1st Sunday of month in communion with us. 

The aim is to intensify the efforts to stop the war and the suffering of the civilian population of which the most vulnerable are the children.  Some of them know no other life than war. Others were born under bombings. They suffer enormous psychological pressure, malnutrition, lack of water and electricity, adequate medical care, and are cold and hungry. 

Rarely does a smile appear on their faces. Suffering comes through in their frightened eyes. 

They live in distress for years. They wake up under the sound of explosions, bombs, and rockets in response to the fact that you never know where they will fall. And always to the detriment of the civilian population, without distinction.

Fathers Micheal and Francesco say: "This initiative comes from the awareness that the King of the Universe, the King of Peace, is the true source of all peace. (…)  We believe that the Lord hears the cry of the “little ones” and that their prayer will become an opportunity for reflection and conversion for those who are 'big'".

The initiatives of prayers for peace, we and the others by the world share on the page: https://www.facebook.com/st.francis.parish.aleppo/

Holy Father, we thank you for the theme of your letter: nonviolence. Throughout this war, we seek ways to be ambassadors of forgiveness. Jesus taught us this attitude by his example. 

He has forgiven his killers. We ask him to heal us by his grace, so we will become the people who "banished violence from their hearts, words and deeds" and like St Francis, the patron of our parish, we can be in turn an instrument of reconciliation. Every time we meet together, we also pray for those who hit and kill. When all that was possible to make is not successful, "convinced of God’s love and power" we use the only effective weapons that we have: love, truth, and prayer.

Holy Father, we thank you for being on our side. We thank you for your prayers and for your calls to the Heads of State and Governments to stop this war. We assure you of our love, our prayer and we ask you to bless us and send to us a message that we would like to read the 1st of January during the Eucharist with the children of our parish and, through live transmission of this Mass on the Internet, to children around the world.

Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo

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