The archbishop of Damascus sounds the alarm: austerity has given way to widespread poverty. Wages have fallen by 50% in just three months. Lebanese crisis and US-Iran tensions have exacerbated an already difficult situation because of the war. A “new vocation” emerges in the drama based on “love, forgiveness, sharing, compassion”.
Damascus – Guaranteeing daily bread “has become the recurring nightmare” for ordinary people and the Church is now “a wall of tears” where people come to “cry for help” or “seek silence in the consolation,” says Msgr. Samir Nassar, Maronite archbishop of Damascus, in a testimony sent to AsiaNews.
The prelate testifies to the dramatic conditions facing the Syrian population. “Imagine that your family must survive on a wage that has fallen by at least 50% in three months. A chaotic scenario that cripples existence”.
Nearly nine years of civil war, the violence of the jihadist groups (from al-Nusra to the Islamic State) which have bloodied much of the territory, the refugee emergency, international sanctions against Damascus and the crisis of the Lebanese banks have brought the Country to its knees.
And the hardest hit, notes Msgr. Nassar, are “above all the most fragile, the sick, children and the elderly”. A crisis “never seen before” and that “throws our faithful in a time of fasting and anticipated Lent”.
Here is the testimony of the archbishop of Damascus:
Imagine that your family has to live on a salary which has dropped by 50% in 3 months….surely a chaotic existence which has pushed up the price of everything and affected the daily living of ordinary families and especially the poorest among them……
The sickening inflation and higher prices has touched everyone already living in austerity and who now experience poverty together with misery.
Shortage of fuel, domestic gas supplies and electricity has plunged the most vulnerable – the fragile, the sick, children and the elderly — into obscurity coupled with deadly freezing temperatures.
The banking crisis in Lebanon has blocked the accounts of the Syrian people, both those of establishments and private accounts, which include the charitable movements who are now forced to declare themselves unable to operate during these days of such hardship….. The urgent needs are no longer able to be met, leaving the poor to exist in complete penury as their income is blocked or frozen in the banks.
The social needs of the people are becoming more and more demanding and risk being worse because of the dual complicity of the Iranian- American thrust which is effectively blocking the route to “Simon of Cyrene” and which lacks any mark of compassion and is leading to a worsening of the situation.
An anticipated Lent
This crisis which is something other than that experienced during these days of war has obliged the people to live a kind of anticipated Lenten fast. To be able to put food on the table has become the daily nightmare.
This new situation has made the church poorer also – a Wall of Lamentation where one comes to weep, to cry for help, and look without ostentation and silently for some consolation, to live out the passion of Christ before Holy Week….
A new vocation is emerging with its colors of the Beatitudes and based on Love, Forgiveness, Praise and Compassion….all under the light of Paschal Hope.
By: Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus