Bishop Antoine Audo Highlights Plight of War-Ravaged Nation
ALEPPO, December (Zenit.org).
Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria made an appeal to all Christians to pray for an end to the nearly two year conflict that has ravaged his nation. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Bishop Audo stated that “we as Christians can live in peace and joy every time when we pray and suffer with the poor and serve them.”
The Syrian prelate said that despite the difficult times, the Church is doing all that it can to serve the poor and needy of Aleppo. “We are helping [the poor families] with different programs, the children with different activities with centers in different parts of the city, with Caritas and other organizations.”
Bishop Audo said that aside from peace, the greatest need of the people of Aleppo at this time is fuel. “It is very cold in Aleppo. We don’t have any fuel […] it’s very expensive. Especially for the hospitals, the schools, of course in the houses – it’s really a real problem, this problem of fuel. And we don’t have electricity and we have to use generators (which require) fuel and it’s very expensive.” The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo also stated that bread is very scarce and expensive as well.
“It’s a very dramatic situation,” he said.
Between one and two thousand Christians, many from the wealthier families have fled the fighting in Aleppo, he added. Most have gone to Lebanon where they can rent an apartment and are able to send their children to school.
When asked what relationship the Christians of Aleppo have with government troops on the one side and rebels on the other, Bishop Audo says the question is a complicated one. “Christians want peace, reconciliation. They don’t want [to be] on one side or the other side. This is our message of reconciliation. We have to respect each other and to develop the sense of citizenship and accept the differences of the others; not to oblige everybody to follow my way of thinking or [a particular] way of living.”
Concluding his interview, Bishop Audo called on Christians to pray for Syria, saying that the conflict is not just an internal way, but affects the world. “There is an international level, a regional level, so everybody has to do what he can to ask (for) peace and reconciliation. War is not the solution.”