A DANGEROUS MISSION IN SYRIA
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki has returned from a several-day pastoral visit in Syria. He saw results of fights, bombarding and terrorist assassinations
The purpose of the visit was to look at the very difficult situation of the Christians in Syria, and was also organized to bring help of which the Church in Poland is capable. The chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference described life conditions which are in Syria now. The war influenced the everyday life of citizens in this country so strongly that they seem to be indifferent to the direct danger of death.- Practically we heard cannonade of guns and air bombing all the time. People do not know when they will die. Some districts of Damascus are completely surrounded and people die from famine and do not have any help adequate to their needs – says archbishop Stanisław Gądecki.
Numbers of victims prove it. The conflict has already entailed 350 thousand victims, other 1.2 million people are wounded and 20 thousand people were kidnapped for ransom. Over 6 million people have already emigrated from Syria. – Mainly higher strata of the society are escaping: doctors, teachers and engineers. Poor people are staying, and are getting into bigger poverty – says archbishop Gądecki.
In this helpless situation both material and spiritual help is important. –Where it was possible, we participated in religious services, praying for peace, and trying to bring a little hope. We helped the Syrian realize the fact that although they are not often visited, they are not lonely, that somebody thinks about them. They thanked Poles for prayer and material support – emphasizes archbishop Gądecki.
The spokesman of the Polish Episcopal Conference Fr. Paweł Rytel –Adrianik says that it was a very dangerous journey, mainly because of bomb assassinations. As a result of explosions of two cars in Damascus and in Hims, at least 142 people were killed, and over 200 people were wounded. During a press briefing at the airport, journalists were asking whether the priests were not scared of going to Syria overwhelmed by the war. –Archbishop does not belong to fearful people – said Fr. Dr. Waldemar Cisło, a director of the Polish branch of Help to Church in Need.
The Association allocated 4.2 million zlotys to victims of the conflict in Syria. This money was given to local bishops, who are taking care of refugees. It was used to buy warm clothes, basic food and medications. –The Syrians are very grateful to us. When we said we were from Poland, they had tears in their eyes – says Fr. Cisło.
Syria cannot rely on help of its neighbouring countries. Even very rich Muslim countries do not organize humanitarian expeditions. Only support which the Syrian receive comes from the Christians.