Jesuits in SyriaMonday, July 2nd, 2012
As the UN held crisis talks on the conflict in Syria this weekend on terms for a transitional government to oversee the end of violence in the country, a Jesuit priest has written about this damage and death he has seen there.
The priest based in Homs stated in an article in the Irish Jesuit News, “Destruction in our neighbourhood is immense, and even moving around on foot is difficult because of the mounds of stones and rubble in the streets. Five Christians have been killed these last days, some in their homes, others in the street.”
Fr Ziad Hilal SJ in Nouzha, Syria, wrote about what he calls, “fierce battles,” between the two sides at war with each other in Homs and added, “The situation is very delicate, and each attempt to enter the old part of the city means suicide. Bombing has gone on uninterrupted since Thursday and gives no respite, and the widespread presence of numerous snipers makes entering the old part of Homs impossible.”
He goes on to write that there are more that 120 people in the neighbourhood and 25 people in the Jesuit residence. They cannot cater for the daily needs, since it is impossible to send out any goods as the roads are completely blocked.
In the Adawiyye-Nouzha neighbourhood, were Fr Hilal is based, the situation is better, but Jesuits are still exposed to crossfire and bombing. Three children from the centre have been wounded. In the same incident, one of the parishioners, Marwan Elias, was wounded and underwent surgery but died a short time later.
Quite a few bombs fell in the area and destroyed some of the houses and shops. Despite very intense fighting and two bombs exploding near the Jesuit residence, it did not suffer any damage inside.
However it was different with the church. Fr Hilal wrote, “Having received a phone call asking me to come to the church to take away what little belongings were left, I hurried there and was met by a horrible sight. The church had suffered very extensive damage, especially the ceiling, the lighting and the icons and stained glass windows. I was deeply moved by the weeping of the faithful when they saw the state to which their church had been reduced.”
He concluded by asking for prayers.
by Ann Marie Foley