Patriarch Youssef


10 5 2012

“We were praying in the cathedral chapel when a strong explosion shattered all the windows. The walls of the nave shuddered as if jolted by a sudden gust of wind; we thought it might be an earthquake.” H.B. Gregorios III Laham, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East is still incredulous, while describing to MISNA the moments of terror that accompanied the double bombing of the Syrian capital this morning. The Cathedral of Bab Sharqi, at the end of the `Via Recta' that leads to the Chapel of Ananias (a Christian martyr who enabled Saint Paul to recover his sight), is perhaps some two or three kilometres from the site of the explosion which up to now, according to a provisional estimate, has killed at least 55 and injured another 300.

“The television showed images of a huge crater, cars and buildings shattered, blood everywhere. The minibus bringing the children to our school had come that way barely 10 minutes before. It is a miracle that they were not involved,” explains the cleric, President of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, condemning “an act of cruelty without precedent in Syria, which has shown the true face of the forces at work behind this absurd propaganda war.” The Patriarch’s voice, shaking with emotion on the day of the worst attack in the country’s recent history, is also raised against the world that “is not listening to the Syrian people’s cries of distress.”

As in neighbouring Palestine, “even in this hitherto untouched corner of the Holy Land, there now runs the blood of innocent people,” warns the Patriarch, noting that “for 63 years now, the Holy Land has been waiting for peace, amid the silence and indifference of the world, which so far has only proffered empty words.” The time has come “to have done with parodies of a two-faced policy, whose broken promises and shameful interests burn like salt on the open wounds of an entire region of the world,” emphasises Patriarch Gregorios III, controversially wondering, “what would happen if, instead of in Syrian Damascus, an attack like this had occurred in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem?

“The world cannot allow hatred and war to engulf the Middle East in a bottomless pit. It’s time to say enough is enough.”