The Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican have forged a partnership to rebuild Christian sites in war-torn Syria. Following a meeting between Pope Francis and the Eastern Patriarchs in Bari, Italy on July 7, 2018, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Secretary of State) said the church leaders agreed to implement a plan on how to reconstruct Christian churches and monasteries, reports Russian News Agency TASS.
Metropolitan Hilarion revealed that despite the tension, restoration work is nearly complete in Maaloula, one of the major holy sites in the Antioch Orthodox Church. “A nunnery built in the location where the Aramaic language was spoken not long ago. The nuns were forced to leave the place, but we are hoping now they will be able to return.”
Because of the crisis, the people started to regather and rethink their priorities. During the crisis, people forgot their religion and remembered one thing: We are all human beings. —Ibrahim Nseir, pastor
Conflict in Syria started in March 2011 when opposition groups called for President Bashar Assad’s ouster. Government forces clashed with armed rebels and violence rapidly escalated in Syria. The UN Refugee Agency reported that 5 million people had left the country and 470,000 lives were lost in the civil war.
As skirmishes abate in some parts of Syria, persecuted Christians have started returning to their home towns. Seven years of war have destroyed houses and livelihood of Syrians, but Christians are slowly rebuilding their lives.
Ibrahim Nseir, pastor of National Presbyterian Church of Aleppo, visited the site where his church used to stand. He said the war may have destroyed the building, but not the faith of his congregation, reports Mennonite World Review.
“Because of the crisis, the people started to regather and rethink their priorities,” he said. “During the crisis, people forgot their religion and remembered one thing: We are all human beings.”
Churches in Syria have been reaching out to Christian and Muslim communities to provide relief which also gives hope to the victims of war. Nseir said giving assistance to Syrian families is a sign that “God is doing a lot in the country, God is not absent.”