SYRIA: Urgent appeal for prayer as crisis worsens
By John Pontifex
Young Syrians climb on a tank in the streets
An urgent prayer appeal for the people of Syria is being made by senior figures from Aid to the Church in Need amid reports that the crisis has dramatically worsened.
Johannes Freiherr Heereman, Aid to the Church in Need's International Executive President, and the organisation’s UK Director, Neville Kyrke-Smith, are calling on the charity’s supporters to pray for people of all faiths at a time of desperate need.
The messages of support come after news from Syria showed that the conflict had suddenly deepened, with reports of more than 300 people killed yesterday alone (Thursday, 19 July) and others stating that 30,000 had fled to Lebanon within 48 hours after four consecutive days of intense fighting in the capital, Damascus.
Aid to the Church in Need 's International Executive President Heereman said: “We call on all benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need throughout the world to pray for peace in Syria.”
In a statement to Aid to the Church in Need benefactors due for release on Monday 23 July, Mr Kyrke-Smith will say: “At this time of crisis, we are turning to the dear friends of Aid to the Church in Need, trusting that they will respond in faith and love."
Aid to the Church in Need's UK director, who visited neighbouring Lebanon in June, added: “During my Lebanon trip, I heard from priests and religious Sisters about the suffering and fear just over the border in Syria.
“Some told me how their communities were coping with a huge influx of those fleeing terror and bombardment.
“They urgently need our prayers and our help.”
The Aid to the Church in Need prayer appeal comes after the charity announced the latest in a series of emergency aid payments for Christians and others inSyria.
The help – totalling more than £100,000 this year alone – provides food, medical aid and shelter for people both trapped in conflict zones and others who have sought sanctuary elsewhere.
Aid to the Church in Need has prioritised help for people from conflict-ridden Homs, until recently home to Syria’s second largest Christian community, the vast majority of whom have fled to towns and villages outside the city.
The charity is also working with key contacts in the country to channel aid through to 160 people trapped in Homs, where historic churches in the Christian quarter have been desecrated.
Aid to the Church in Need's prayer appeal for Syria echoes a similar plea made yesterday (19 July) by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.
In a message released yesterday, the CCEE declared: “The conflict can only bring grief, destruction and serious consequences for the whole noble Syrian people.”
The bishops added: “Our faith leads us to hope that a solution to the crisis is possible, a solution which is fair and constructive and respectful of everyone’s interests.
Backing the CCEE appeal, Aid to the Church in Need's International Executive President Heereman told supporters: “Please respond to this call. The situation is serious.
“The Council of European Bishops’ Conferences reminds us that the coming days may be decisive.
“Aid to the Church in Need therefore unconditionally supports this appeal.”
Aid to the Church in Need, which recently was promoted to be a Pontifical Foundation, is responding to a 2007 request from Pope Benedict XVI to help Christians in the Middle East, where he said “the local Church is threatened in its very existence”.