Around 3.6 million live in Turkey and a further 1.6 million in Lebanon or Jordan – all of them neighboring countries to Syria from which a return would at least theoretically be possible. Archbishop Jihad Battah made an interview with a church broadcaster.
The archbishop admitted that the situation in Syria was still dire. Battah referred to the continuing rise in poverty, rising inflation, inadequate medical care and a dysfunctional infrastructure. The World Bank estimates that the damage to the infrastructure in Syria alone is at least $ 197 million. Changes in Syria must come from within, emphasized the bishop, and he underlined the important role of Christians in this process of rebuilding society: be it through schools, hospitals, other church institutions or the simple testimony of Christian families.
The Syrian Catholic Archbishop recalled the medical care provided by two Catholic hospitals in Damascus and one in Aleppo. The aid benefits all those in need, regardless of which religion they belong to. Battah: “If you really want peace, you have to help the poor first.”
Archbishop Battah added again in the interview: “A Middle East without Christians would be very dangerous.” The reason for this: “We can live with anyone. With the Sunnis, the Shiites, with the Turks, with the Jews. Christianity can be a bridge for all religions.”
The Syrian Catholic Archbishop is looking forward to Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq (March 5-8) with great expectations, even though the visit is only intended for a neighboring country in Syria. Nonetheless, the Pope’s visit was to a certain extent the whole region of the Middle East. In this context, Archbishop Battah also recalled the great concern that Francis always had for the need and suffering of the Syrian people. The Pope always urges the international community to give this need or humanitarian crisis special priority, Battah said.
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