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Vocations “come and follow me”

Syria: a Franciscan monastery struck

A missile fired from an aircraft struck the Franciscan monastery of Yacoubieh, in northwestern Syria, on the evening of Sunday, July 20. The building was significantly damaged. Father Dhiya Aziz, a Franciscan of the Custody of the Holy Land, who at that time of the strike, was not in his room, which was destroyed. The friar suffered only superficial wounds.

Custos of the Holy Land
“Many monasteries, not just Franciscan ones, were destroyed. The latest one is the one in Yacoubieh in the northern part of the country that is under the control of the rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra. The monastery was completely destroyed by a missile fired from a government plane.”

The Custos of the Holy Land just returned from a fraternal visit to Syria, during which he became more aware of the situation of the friars in the various monasteries, but he became equally aware of the situation of the local population: Christians (who make up ten percent of the population) and also Muslims.

Custos of the Holy Land
“The situation is the same for Christians and the friars, and it is dramatic. Especially for the people who live in the north, in the villages of the Orontes, and also for the city of Aleppo that for months has gone without water, electricity or security, because of the missiles, which nobody knows who is launching, falling in every part of the city. No one is ever safe here.”

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in three years of war, more than 170 thousand people have died. A tragedy within which, according to Fr. Pizzaballa, one can read some signs of hope and humanity.

Custos of the Holy Land
“Despite the wars, or perhaps because wars force people to create opportunities for interaction and mutual aid, because the poor, the injured, and the displaced are all the same. There are neither Christians nor Muslims, neither good nor bad. What I have seen, especially because of the water emergency, is that everyone is helping each other: Muslims take water to Christians, Christians take water from the parish and then bring it to their Muslim neighbors. [This is especially true] with children, wherever there are children, in schools, in hospitals.”

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