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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Thursday, 5 September 2013

THE TRAPPIST NUNS OF AZEIR, SYRIA: "They are going to bomb us!!" Three cheers for the British Parliament!!

(thanks to Jim Forest)
Today we have no words, except those of the Psalms that the liturgical prayer puts onto our lips in these days:
Rebuke the Beast of the Reeds, that herd of bulls, that people of calves…oh God, scatter the people who delight in war…Yahweh has leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary, has looked down from heaven to earth to listen to the sighing of the captive, and set free those condemned to death…Listen, God, to my voice as I plead, protect my life from fear of the enemy; hide me from the league of the wicked, from the gang of evil-doers. They sharpen their tongues like a sword, aim their arrow of poisonous abuse…They support each other in their evil designs, they discuss how to lay their snares. “Who will see us?” they say. He will do that, he who penetrates human nature to its depths, the depths of the heart…Break into song for my God, to the tambourine, sing in honor of the Lord, to the cymbal, let psalm and canticle mingle for him, extol his name, invoke it…For the Lord is a God who breaks battle-lines! … Lord, you are great, you are glorious, wonderfully strong, unconquerable. 

We look at the people around us, our day workers who are all here as if suspended, stunned: “They’ve decided to attack us.” Today we went to Tartous…we felt the anger, the helplessness, the inability to formulate a sense to all this: the people trying their best to work and to live normally. You see the farmers watering their land, parents buying notebooks for the schools that are about to begin, unknowing children asking for a toy or an ice cream…you see the poor, so many of them, trying to scrape together a few coins. The streets are full of the “inner” refugees of Syria, who have come from all over to the only area left that is still relatively liveable…. You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people’s faces, the good-natured gaze of a boy who is about to join the army and gives us the two or three peanuts he has in his pocket as a token of “togetherness”…. And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. … Just like that. Because “it’s time to do something,” as it is worded in the statements of the important men, who will be sipping their tea tomorrow as they watch TV to see how effective their humanitarian intervention will be….

Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in?

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!

A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?

The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.

The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”

And despite all our globalizations and sources of information, it seems nothing can be verified. It seems that there is no such thing as a minimal scrap of truth … That is, they don’t want there to be any truth; while actually a truth does exist, and anyone honest would be able to find it, if they truly sought it out together, if they weren’t prevented by those who are in the service of other interests.

There is something wrong, and it is something very serious…because the consequences will be wrought on the lives of an entire population…it is in the blood that fills our streets, our eyes, our hearts.

Yet what use are words anymore? All has been destroyed: a nation destroyed, generations of young people exterminated, children growing up wielding weapons, women winding up alone and targeted by various types of violence…families, traditions, homes, religious buildings, monuments that tell and preserve history and therefore the roots of a people…all destroyed. …

As Christians we can at least offer all this up to the mercy of God, unite it to the blood of Christ, which carries out the redemption of the world in all those who suffer.

They are trying to kill hope, but we must hold on to it with all our might.

To those who truly have a heart for Syria (for mankind, for truth…) we ask for prayer…abounding, heartfelt, courageous prayer.

The Trappist nuns from Azeir, Syria

August 29, 2013

POPE FRANCIS ON SYRIA, "ABANDON THE FUTILE PURSUIT OF A MILITARY SOLUTION"

my source: The Huffington Post

 VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis urged the Group of 20 leaders on Thursday to abandon the "futile pursuit" of a military solution in Syria as the Vatican laid out its case for a negotiated settlement that guarantees rights for all minorities, including Christians. 

 In a letter Thursday to the G-20 host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Francis lamented that "one-sided interests" had prevailed in Syria, preventing a diplomatic end to the conflict and allowing the continued "senseless massacre" of innocents. 

 "To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution," Francis wrote as the G-20 meeting got under way in St. Petersburg. Francis has ratcheted up his call for peace in Syria amid threatened U.S.-led military strikes following an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus. He will host a peace vigil in St. Peter's Square on Saturday, a test of whether his immense popular appeal will translate into popular support for his peace message. 

 On Thursday, the Vatican summoned ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to outline its position on Syria, with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, noting that the Aug. 21 attack had generated "horror and concern" from around the world. "Confronted with similar acts one cannot remain silent, and the Holy See hopes that the competent institutions make clear what happened and that those responsible face justice," Mamberti told the 71 ambassadors gathered. He didn't refer explicitly to the threat of military strikes to punish the Syrian regime for the attack. But he said the main priority was to stop the violence which he said risked involving other countries and creating "unforeseeable consequences in various parts of the world." The Vatican, he said, called for a return to dialogue and for the country to not be split up along ethnic or religious lines. Minorities, including Christians, must have their basic rights guaranteed, including their right to profess their religion, he said. And he called for the opposition to distance itself from extremists, isolate them "and openly and clearly oppose terrorism" – a reference to the al-Qaida-affiliated rebels fighting against the government. The Assad family's four-decade iron rule over Syria long has rested on support from the country's ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians, Shiite Muslims and Kurds. The Assad family and key regime figures are Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while most rebels and their supporters are Sunni Muslims. As a result, the Catholic Church has toed a careful line on Syria, staying largely silent at the start of the civil war even after the regime's brutal crackdown on dissent.

 As the violence raged, the Vatican stepped up its call for dialogue. And amid the U.S. threat of military intervention, Vatican and church officials have warned that a world war could erupt, with Christians in the region bearing the brunt of the fallout.

 On Wednesday, the head of Francis' Jesuit order, the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, told a Catholic news agency that military action by the U.S. and France would be an "abuse of power." "I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure," he was quoted as saying in the interview, the text of which was released by a Vatican-affiliated spokesman. 

 This week, Syrian government troops have been battling al-Qaida-linked rebels over Maaloula, a regime-held Christian village in western Syria. Some of its 2,000 residents still speak a version of Aramaic, the ancient language of biblical times believed to have been spoken by Jesus


Robin Barnwell, who directed and produced 'A History of Syria with Dan Snow', explains the challenges of filming amid the conflict, and describes the spirit of the Syrian people he met.
(thanks to Mystagogy)
The Syrian Airlines jet performed an alarming dive on its nighttime approach into Damascus airport in an attempt to avoid any hostile fire. The exterior lights on the aircraft were switched off to make it less visible to any rebel fighters attempting to shoot the plane down. Syrian army artillery rounds were flying through the air, thudding into residential suburbs not far from the airport.

Once we'd landed, I saw little of the Syria I knew from my previous two visits. The airport that had been the gateway to the country for tourists was quiet. The road to the centre of Damascus was eerily empty. Our driver drove as fast as he could, speeding us past signs welcoming us to Syria on a road that regularly comes under attack or is caught in the crossfire in a conflict that has now cost more than 70,000 lives and displaced millions. How, I wondered, had Syria and its people, whom I had such warm memories of, reached such a state?

Like many people, I first travelled to Syria in 1995 to immerse myself in the country's extraordinary and varied history. Now I was in Damascus to direct and film a documentary that would explain how history had helped shape and influence the appalling civil war that is tearing Syria and its different communities apart. It was a strange relief to be in Damascus, as visas for journalists and filmmakers, issued by the Syrian government, are difficult to obtain.

The programme's Middle East producer had doggedly convinced a suspicious Syrian Ministry of Information that now was the right time to make a history of Syria after weeks of officials telling us to come back after the 'current, temporary problems' were over. We persisted in pushing for access because history can help explain the current violence in Syria; violence that has become increasingly incomprehensible for audiences of news programmes around the world.

I was surprised by my own ignorance about the subject. It was only after weeks of reading and meetings with experts before actually arriving in Syria did I map the historical connections, linking present day events with the past. How though, were we to go about making a documentary in a country consumed by civil war?

Permission to film almost anything and anyone was frustratingly difficult to obtain. The official from the Syrian Ministry of Information assigned to take us around kept apologizing for the numerous new restrictions that had been put in place. Getting access to the beautiful Old City of Damascus now involved negotiating a way through sandbagged checkpoints past soldiers who were suspicious of foreigners and visibly on edge.


Surreally, though, Syrians were rushing around going about their daily business, seemingly ignoring the near constant sound of gunfire and fighter jets which screeched overhead to bomb targets in the suburbs. An even stranger sense of normality prevailed in other locations we filmed, particularly in Syria's coastal city Lattakia, where no fighting was taking place. We mingled with couples watching the sunset over the Mediterranean and for a moment one was back in pre-conflict Syria. But the effects of war were never far away.


thanks to Jim Forest

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I: let us pray for peace in Syria, together with Pope Francis

Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople welcomes the appeal of the "brother in Christ, Francis Pope" to pray and fast for peace in Syria, asking also international leaders gathered in St. Petersburg for the G20 summit to promote a negotiating solution and not a military intervention with regards to the Syrian conflict. 

"The Ecumenical Patriarchate and us personally - says a note sent to Fides Agency - are anxiously following the developments of the situation in Syria and, more generally, throughout the Middle East. Let us pray that peace prevails. Only peace will also allow 

the Christians of the Middle East to continue to live without any impediment in those lands where they were born"

The Ecumenical Patriarch, to the participants at the G20 summit being held in St. Petersburg, hopes "that the decisions taken there help promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict".

Also, reads the statement issued by the Patriarch, "the Church of Constantinople welcomes the initiative promoted by the Bishop of Rome Francis to appeal to Christians of the whole world so that next Saturday they all join in prayer and fasting, to ask that peace prevails in the martyred land of Syria, in the hope that God may enlighten the minds of policy makers, and thus military action is avoided that would inevitably result in the death of innocent victims".

"We, too," concluded the Ecumenical Patriarch, "welcome the appeal of our brother in Christ, Pope Francis to pray next Saturday for the same intention, as we always have done since the beginning of the bloody conflict in Syria". (GV) 


(Agenzia Fides 06/09/2013)
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