Wellbeing & Ecology – Focolare Movement http://www.focolare.org/en Official International Website Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:38:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Igino Giordani: “Life is truly beautiful.” http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/18/igino-giordani-life-is-truly-beautiful/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/18/igino-giordani-life-is-truly-beautiful/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 02:10:56 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=163989 20 April 1979 – Like every Christian, my love goes to the Lord in every moment and I contemplate Him with respectful fear. At times, however, I take chances since it never represses my calling as a jokester.

And this morning at Mass an invocation suddenly popped into my mind: “You are the Omnipotent.” And immediately after my weak poetic side looked for a rhyme: “I am ‘nopotent’.” Then, I thought that if I’m nothing, by receiving God into myself, I take on Divine value.

5 November 1979 – I’m often taken by thoughts of death, but they don’t come in darkness and sorrow. Death comes as a light that shows our greatness and the beauty of life, and of its Author who could be anything but a most benevolent father.
Looking at certain periods in life was hard, crude, desolate: the misery, the mourning, the wars, the betrayals, the meaninglessness… But contemplated as a whole, life appears a prodigy – a demonstration – of God’s fatherliness: 86 years of life, the wounds of battle that kept the war ever present, the political battles, the financial problems, the misunderstandings both inflicted and undergone, the physical weakness, etc. But seen as a whole, it appears a defeat of death to me, a joyful and necessary operation in which I was given to do more good than bad and have feelings of extraordinary successes, friendships, journeys, mystical elevations, lessons of wisdom and faith. I never stop thanking the sharer of so many good thing that were, given to me so freely.

So even amid the shadows and the sorrows, life was beautiful for me, a gift worthy of its Creator. And my daily observations, reasonings and verifying has proven to me the truth of the religious faith that has always enlightened me and made me want to live. Life is truly beautiful, and its beauty shows the absurdity of politics and the personal behaviours of those who have worked to make it ugly (war, terrorism, exploitation, hedonism, greed, lust) and all the deformations and lacerations intended by stupidity the intelligence of the world’s Enemy.

Source: Igino Giordani, Diario di fuoco, Città Nuova, Rome, 2005 (1980), pp.238-240.

Brochure: On the anniversary of his death, the Centre named after him has published a brochure about the life of Igino Giordani and his spiritual journey.

For information: info@iginogiordani.info
Giordani on Facebook

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The stength of gettng up again http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/13/the-stength-of-gettng-up-again/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/13/the-stength-of-gettng-up-again/#respond Fri, 13 Apr 2018 01:10:26 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=163723 “For nearly three years we Young People For A United World, here in Rome, have been working with the prison adminstration and the G9 Committee, a group of eight prisoners from an un-named department of the prison of Rebibbia, who, although they don’t have children of their own, have been engaged in promoting opportunities for other prisoners to meet with their families. Raffaele Natalucci and another twenty-nine young people from Rome tell about it. “Three times a year we set up stands where parents and children can spend some time together, playing and colouring with their little ones.

During the organized events in the grassy areas, the internal courtyard of the prison, nearly three-hundred people are able to gather, which include inmates and their families, and numerous volunteers from the local area. During one of those events a detainee shared his experience with us: “Being deprived of your freedom, estranges you from reality. Staying in a cell, between four walls, one’s horizon also begins to shrink. Those that had benefited from special permits said that it was difficult to look far into the horizon. The opportunity to do jobs inside the prison means a lot to me. Before, I spent my energy on illegal activity, but that turned out to be like eating an ice-cream cone that was melting in the sun. But to work at organizing sport events or projects that benefit the inmates is a hundred times better than any salary.”

Raffaele continues: “As Young People For Unity, we’re having a very powerful human experience: the order from the prison guards to leave every piece of personal property behind resounds, every time, like an invitation to also abandon every prejudice, going beyond the barriers between the outside world and the prison world, to build authentic relationships with the people in jail, to the point that they now refer to us as the “External Committee”. We’ve launched a “Project on Legality” with a series of thematic gatherings outside the prison. In full sync with the instructors, inmates and experts, we’ve chosen to explore several topics, such as interpersonal relationships, integration among cultures, a legality of “us”, the rediscovery of one’s attitudes and re-insertion into professional life.”

On Father’s Day, March 19th, we invited psychologist, Ezio Aceti, to speak on parenthood, to some seventy inmates in the prison theatre. The presenation was focused on the needs and expectations of the child. “Take note of the other person’s thoughts, talk honestly about oneself, show a positive image,” he explained. “These are the necessary prerequisites so that the encounter between detainies and their children will bear fruit.”

During the roundtable conference, one detainee asked: “What can a father with a life sentence say to his daughter?” “That her father made a mistake, but is doing all he can,” was the answer. “If his daughter finds that integrity and the courage to get up again, that will be the image she has of her father.” “Parenthood is keeping a bond going. You must transmit a feeling of belonging to your children. Then they will have a positive experience and will remember their father who is in prison.” Lastly, the psychologist strongly encouraged the detainees: “Raising a child does not mean not making mistakes, but putting everything into it in spite of the mistakes. That will teach your children tolerance. You can be good fathers even if you’ve made mistakes. Deep down all of us feel discouraged, but there’s another voice in our hearts that tells us: Get up, begin again. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve gone wrong, but how many times you’ve got up again. The miracle is that by always getting up again, a change will take place.”

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Teaching in the suburbs of Paris http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/10/teaching-in-the-suburbs-of-paris/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/10/teaching-in-the-suburbs-of-paris/#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 03:10:58 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=162956 With her reassuringly calm demeanour, mother-of-two Maria –  born in Italy, married to a French man – teaches her mother tongue in a notorious neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris, in one of those schools which finds it practically impossible to retain its staff.  In fact, determination, courage and passion are all required in no small measure to be able to work in such a disadvantaged area, scarred by drug and arms trafficking, with dealers right at the school gates. The pupils come from a wide range of cultures and different nationalities. Maria reflects, “For me, it’s quite simply a matter of responding to a calling to work for equal opportunities, to propose and deliver a programme of formation that aims high, and to bring the love of Christ where it seems to be lacking.” Maria explains how coming into contact as a child with Chiara Lubich nurtured this aspiration and sustained her into adult life. “Thanks to the relationships of unity I live with those who share this same ideal, I’m able to refresh my outlook and attitude every day, whatever difficulties I face.”

It was a real challenge, especially at the start, to understand how to interact constructively with the students, how to react to their verbal aggression and acts of vandalism. It soon became clear that in order to be able to help the children, it was necessary to get the families involved. In addition, the constant stream of new teaching staff needed support in order to engage effectively with such a complex situation. This kind of supportive synergy among colleagues gave an excellent example to the students. Maria continues,“From an educational perspective, I base my work on an interdisciplinary approach incorporating cultural projects. The organisation of any project requires teamwork, and our attempt as colleagues to live in the spirit of fraternity, offers a credible model to the students.”  These projects often conclude with a trip to Italy, both motivating the students to learn the language and encouraging cultural exchanges with Italian youth, which can also provide an enriching experience of fraternity.

“This kind of project,” relates Maria, “leads to the involvement of our pupils’ families in the life of the school, it establishes a relationship of trust in which we can seek solutions together so that no student is held back by economic problems.”

In other words, Maria’s objective is to create an educational network involving families and teachers, all striving for the human and cultural development of these at-risk children. It is an approach which is already showing positive results.

When Aïcha was disrupting her class, it was quietly – but firmly – explained to her how “everyone must do their part to live in harmony”. Her response was to write, “I’m sorry for how I behaved on Friday. I let myself down and it’ll not happen again. You’re a great person, you’re clever and wise. You pass true values onto your students and make us want to do well. I’ll never forget you.”

The care and respect given to each child encouraged another pupil, Yanis, who was at first extremely reserved, to open up and display a hitherto unexpressed interest in art and history. The key is always the personal care and attention due to each individual with their own story and their own sensitivity. “I’ve learnt never to expect immediate results,” concludes Maria. “When a young person shows no sign of improvement, it’s important to keep on believing in them, accompanying them, not allowing yourself to be blocked by anything, but continuing to identify the positive within them and giving value to that. Every day, the challenge is to find the courage and strength to nurture hope through actions aimed at building true relationships”.

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The miracle of sport http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/06/the-miracle-of-sport/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/04/06/the-miracle-of-sport/#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 03:10:12 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=163476 Sports and peace have been a winning combination since ancient times, when an “Olympic truce” was put in force during the games that were celebrated in honor of Zeus. All public and private hostilities were put on hold in order to safeguard the athletes and spectators who had to cross enemy territories in order to reach Olympia.
The International Day of Sport that will be celebrated April 6 will be held on the same day that, in 1896, saw the reopening of the Olympic Games for the modern era, once again in Greece. This emphasizes the value and relevance of this year’s Day of Sport.

Paolo Cipolli is the director of Sportmeet, an international network of athletes and sports professionals. Since 2002 it has been dedicated to and contributed toward developing a sports culture that is focused on peace, development and universal fraternity.
“Sport, which some sociologists have defined as an ‘imitation of war’ or ‘war without shooting,’ can still represent an element of reconciliation despite its combative content,” says Cipolli. “Through a process of catharsis, purification through conflict and the element of competition, controlled by the rules of the game, sports holds great potential for relationships.”

The recent Winter Games are a great example. “What happened at PyeongChang was truly surprising,” says Cipolli. “At first, the choice of a venue near the border of the two Koreas, especially during a time when there were escalating tensions, seemed ill-fated. And yet, the miracle of sport occurred, and the Olympics showed themselves to be not only an extraordinary chance to change the expectations of a breakdown, but also a surprising opportunity to bring the two countries closer. It was a miracle that threw a curve ball at international politics,” he says.
“This has happened before. Many times in recent history, sports became an opportunity to ease tensions. I remember that famous game of ping pong between China and the United States in 1971.”

Sportmeet, which began within the Focolare Movement, promotes values of holistic personal growth and peace within the world of sports. What are its goals?
“What moves us is the drive to bring our spiritual legacy, Chiara Lubich’s ideal of unity, into this area. We support the positive experiences that exist, recognizing everything good that the history of sport has brought about to date. We also hope to grow awareness that sports has great possibilities for developing fraternity.
“Recently we had the opportunity to promote and participate in the first Via Pacis Half Marathon in Rome. We will continue to work in partnership with various religious communities and sports institutions for the next marathon, to be held on September 23.”

The reality of limitations runs through all our lives, whether individually or collectively. It is a mold we all come through, with disadvantages, difficulties and social hurdles, both physical and psychological. How does sports address this?
“The experience of sports contributes to an understanding of limitations that goes beyond its specific area of expertise. By its very nature, sports is a contest with limitations. Promoting participation prepares us for differences, opening pathways to integrate and overcome any political, religious, ethnic or social barriers.”

What’s next?

“We are organizing an international conference around these themes, to be held April 20–22 in Rome. It will be open to those working in the field of sports and others, in order to learn about and promote good practices.

“On the main day, April 21, there will be an ‘Earth Village’ at Villa Borghese, where we will get together with participants from the Eco-One conference entitled ‘Nature breaks limits.’ We’ll take an interdisciplinary approach to limitations.

“It will be a roaming conference between the Corviale neighborhood, which is on the geographic and social margins of the city, and central Rome. It will be a chance to see the difficulty, vulnerability and the ‘margins’ and realize that they are limits to recognize.

“They make us more human.”


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Walking through the Judean desert http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/27/walking-through-the-judean-desert/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/27/walking-through-the-judean-desert/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 00:10:48 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=163001

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Hope in sight for Aleppo http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/22/hope-in-sight-for-aleppo/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/22/hope-in-sight-for-aleppo/#respond Thu, 22 Mar 2018 02:10:04 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=162609 20180322-01bThe story of Jean and Vivian is a story of love, hope and courage. They met in Aleppo, Syria, in 2000 while belonging to the Focolare Movement. Vivian is a widow with a one year-old son who is totally deaf. Jean is a carpenter and socially active. Their common commitment to living the Gospel and bringing the ideal of a united world to humanity brought them closer and, in 2003 they got married and have four children.

Vivian’s first son, Marc, was the motivation behind their adventure. Because of his need for special care, Vivian went to Lebanon where Marc would later follow and stay at a centre run by the Focolare: “It’s really a foretaste of Heaven,” he says. “Living the Gospel in daily life accompanies the whole educational process. The children grow up in this oasis of peace and develop their talents while overcoming their handicap. The dream began to grow in me of setting up an institute myself, in my own city of Aleppo.”

Jean supported him in his venture and, in 2005, their small centre was begun. Other larger ones would follow with larger capacity for up to ten children, all from poor families who couldn’t afford the cost. The centre was always in deficit: “Whenever we needed something,” Jean recalls, “we’d go in front of the crucifix and hand over our needs to Him. Providence arrived right on time every time.”

1395739130-720x0-c-defaultThe breakout of the war in 2011 brought much death and destruction. Jean lost his carpentry, the centre wasn’t having any financial input and many were living on help from the Church and humanitarian organizations. Many left the country and, even though Jean and Vivian were tormented at the thought, they bought tickets to go. But one thing became clearer and clearer in their hearts: they couldn’t leave “their” deaf children and destroy that dream that had come true with so much effort. “On the night before our departure, I stepped into church,” Jeans says, “I had a deep conversation with Jesus, face to face, man to man. He seemed to speak in my heart and asked me not to go: what would the children now? I felt him posing this tragic question to me. I put my children in His hands. I went home and Vivian and I decided to rip up the tickets and stay in the city forever to be a help to the people who needed us.” “We were hopeful that God would accompany and support us in all our future projects and especially in our family,” echoed Vivian, “and that’s what happened.”

Now the centre is their second home, their children also take part in the life of the group and Jean works full time “This community has widened our hearts. There is no longer boy or girl, student or teacher, healthy or handicapped, Muslim or Christian. We live in the one love and beneath the same gaze of a God-Love, incarnate, living in our midst.”


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Story of Chiara Lubich http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/14/story-of-chiara-lubich/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/14/story-of-chiara-lubich/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2018 02:10:09 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=162217 ]]>

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Women masterpieces http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/08/women-masterpieces/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/03/08/women-masterpieces/#respond Thu, 08 Mar 2018 02:10:46 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=162236 María Cecilia PerrínMaría Cecilia Perrín was a sunny-natured Argentinean girl born in Punta Alta (Buenos Aires) in 1957. After being engaged for two years, she and Luis married in 1983 and she lived intensely with the desire to set solid Christian roots to the emerging family. Two years later, while she was pregnant she was diagnosed with cancer. With the support of her husband and the family, she chose not to heed the suggestion to undergo a “therapeutic abortion.” She died at the age of 28 after the birth of the baby girl. As she expressly requested, her remains were interred in the Mariapolis Lia (O’Higgins, Buenos Aires), a place of joy and hope. Her reputation of sanctity, heroism in accepting her illness, the example of Christian life, and the many graces that have been granted through her intercession started off the cause of her beatification on 30 November 2005.

MariaOrsola_bMaria Orsola Bussone, born in 1954 in Vallo Torinese, northern Italy, was a generous, open and sportive child. At the age of 11 she participated with her family in a meeting of the parish Movement in Rocca di Papa. She wrote to Chiara Lubich: “I want to love always, be the first to love, without expecting a return. I want to let God use me as He desires and do all I can, since that is the only thing in life that matters.” On 10 July 1970, at 15, while participating as an activities coordinator in a summer camp, she died of an electric shock while drying her hair with a hairdryer. Her fame of sanctity spread and many people went to her tomb to pray for her intercession. Her diary and letters revealed her deep spirituality. The construction of the parish Centre to which she contributed was named after her. On 17 December 2000 the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification ended. On 18 March 2015 Pope Francis authorised the promulgation of the decree which declared her a Venerable.

MargaritaBavosiMargarita Bavosi, born in 1941, is the third child of a wealthy family of Buenos Aires (Argentina). She lived a happy life until she was ten, when her mother suddenly passed away. The acute pain pushed her to ask the Virgin Mary to take her place. The meeting with the charism of unity was the answer to her desire for sanctity. She donated her life to God in the focolare, and was known to all as “Luminosa.” She spent some years in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, and became the co-director of the Focolare Movement in Spain. At 40 she felt an unexplainable physical decline, and only after three years received a precise prognosis. Soon she was unable to move about but continued to build relationships, taking to heart the motto of St. Aloysius Gonzaga “I shall keep on playing my game.” The night of 6 March 1985, amid the amazement of those present, she said “Here I am Jesus, I have always tried to do everything in your presence.” On 22 November 2008 the diocesan phase of the canonisation phase closed. The center of the Focolare of Madrid and the international town close to New York were named after her.

RenataBorloneRenata Borlone was born on 30 May 1930 in Aurelia (Civitavecchia, close to Rome). She was raised in a non-practicing but united family, and when she was 10, witnessed the explosion of World War II. Thirsting for truth, she sought it in studies. She enrolled in the Faculty of Chemistry, since she was a science enthusiast. At 19 she came in contact with the evangelical life of some of the first focolare women who had just moved to Rome, and through them, she felt the certainty that God is love! At 20 she entered the focolare and for 40 years served the Work of Mary, with roles of responsibility in Italy and abroad. In 1967 she arrived at the Training School Loppiano where she spent 23 years constantly focused on reaching sanctity. At 59 she was found to have a serious illness and the few months that remained were an acceleration in her thrust toward God. Despite her suffering she transmitted joy and a sense of sacredness and up to the last moment repeated, “I want to testify that death is life.” On 27 February 2011 the diocesan phase of the beatification process closed.


Also see:
Alfredo Zirondoli, “Luminosa continued to play. Profile of Margarita Bavosi,” Città Nuova, Rome.

Giulio Marchesi, Alfredo Zirondoli, “A silence that became life. The life of Renata Borlone”, Città Nuova, Rome.

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Engaged couples: The strength of personal witness http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/02/15/engaged-couples-the-strength-of-testimonials/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/02/15/engaged-couples-the-strength-of-testimonials/#respond Thu, 15 Feb 2018 02:10:00 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=161195 P1320454The international conference for engaged couples held in Castel Gandolfo (Rome) has just ended. It was organised by the New Families Movement of the Focolare, and attracted the participation of 65 couples. Besides addressing the issue of personal choice and identifying and overcoming crises in relationships, with a special focus on   communication, affection and spirituality, what impressed most were the real-life stories shared by couples. One example was the experience shared by Massimo and Francesca from Rome, married for 17 years, both managers in a Telecom company and the latter, also a teacher of Italian to foreign students.

Francesca: According to the doctors, we would not be able to have children, and even if there would be a pregnancy, the certainty of success would not be assured. It was a sentence without appeal. After a prior moment of distress, a reassuring conviction made its way: fertility lies not only in a biological capacity, but in being able to generate love around you. So we continued to bring ahead, with unchanged enthusiasm, the initiatives that had accompanied the choices we had made in our youth to work for others. We would also be open to life, albeit the fear of serial and traumatic miscarriage.

P1320237Two years had not passed when we discovered that we were expecting a baby. As foreseen, the pregnancy was difficult, and progressed despite the verdicts of the doctors who continued to remind us of the serious risks entailed and the care we had to take. In those difficult moments we prayed to God, the author of life, which made us even more conscious of the preciousness of that little bundle which wanted to grow inside me despite the severe opinion of the doctors. The doctors were astounded when at the end of term, Alessandro was born very healthy, and I too was well, though they even told us: now you have a child, do not dare venture beyond.

Massimo: Instead we were still open to life and after a few years, a new pregnancy came up, followed by a new wave of amazement, skepticism and recommendations of the doctors. At the advanced stage, there was a suspicion of the Down syndrome, to be ascertained through an amniocentesis. Once again, despite the trauma of this news, we felt that the certainty of God’s love was stronger for us and our baby, to whom we wanted to give an unconditional welcome. Those were months of fear and distress which we again overcame by targeting not to remain entangled by the suffering but to live it as an occasion to love one another and all around us. At Matteo’s birth they told us that he did not have the Down syndrome, but a heart malformation which required hospitalization until when he could be operated, at four months of age.

P1320257Francesca: In those four months, the fatigue, and above all the inability to face the pain of an innocent child, brought moments of misunderstanding between us. That propensity to love one another at times seemed to disappear, also because I wanted to stay in the hospital with Matteo and Massimo at home with Alessandro or at work. We saw each other only in the ward and often a wrong word sufficed to flare up.

Massimo: One evening, after visiting them in the hospital, upon saying goodbye in the corridor both of us felt the need for a sincere, beneficial, heart-to-heart dialogue. We understood that among the many worries, the only one which should be heeded was that of loving each other. And even now, when the inevitable daily tensions seem to take the upper hand, we go back to remembering those moments of light in which also as a family, suffering has regenerated us to a truer love.

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From Syria to Syria http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/02/14/from-syria-to-syria/ http://www.focolare.org/en/news/2018/02/14/from-syria-to-syria/#comments Wed, 14 Feb 2018 02:10:14 +0000 http://www.focolare.org/?p=161152 We publish summary of the New City’s interview with Robert Chelhod, a native of Aleppo, Syria, and local coordinator of the AMU projects. His hopes for the rebirth of his country.]]> Focolare_Aleppo
Robert Chelhod (centre) with the focolarini in Aleppo

Robert Chelhod was born in 1963, in Aleppo, Syria. He is now stationed in Italy at the headquarters of AMU (Action for a United World) close to Rome, to take stock of the social projects and the organization of aid. In 1990 he returned to his country of origin to open the first Focolare centre, and remained in Aleppo for 18 years before going to Lebanon in 2008.

What do you remember about Syria?

“The regime has not blocked progress. I saw a blooming at all levels: Syria was once full of tourists, and the economy was at its peak. Before the war the minimum wage was $500, and now, just to give you an idea, it is $50. The apex was in 2010. With the Arab spring in 2011, internal problems started which led to the war.”

What was your idea of the war in Syria, seen from Lebanon?

“I would have wanted to be with my people, but I couldn’t leave Lebanon at that moment. The biggest pain was to see the Syrian refugees enter Lebanon. I knew those people! They were honest people, hardworking, and would have been a resource for the country.”

In January 2017 you returned to Syria, a month after the liberation of Aleppo.

“I stayed at “home” for three months, in a restricted circle. Only after three months did I pluck the courage to go out to see the most beautiful part of the city razed to the ground. Seeing again those places I had always “boasted” of, or rather, seeing that they no longer exist, was a shock. When I went to the old Suk for the first time, where you see only rubble, someone explained: “the rebels entered here, and here the army came…” I thought of all the people who died in that place. I felt I shouldn’t judge even those who have destroyed my city.”

How did you find the people on your return?

“Discouraged and disappointed. But also with the desire to move on. All feel the exhaustion of the past years, the living conditions, but at the same time the determination to start again.”

20180214-03What can we do for Syria today? “For those who have faith, continue to pray. And you can bet with the Syrians that the country is alive. We need support in Syria. Not only from the economic point of view, which is certainly vital, but in believing that with us, this country, the cradle of civilisation, can be reborn. That peace is still possible. We need to know that the world feels our suffering, that of a country that is disappearing.”

You coordinate onsite the social projects funded through AMU. How does this come about?  

The projects range from aid for food to schooling. Then there is healthcare aid since public healthcare is unable to meet the minimum standards of assistance due to the lack of doctors, medicines and instruments. Besides help for families, there are more stable projects: two after-school organisations in Damascus and Homs with 100 children each, Christians and Muslims; two specific healthcare projects for the treatment of cancer and for dialysis; and a school for the deaf and dumb children, that was already operating before the war. These projects offer the possibility of work for many local youths. The employment issue is fundamental. We are dreaming in the near future of the possibility of working on microcredit to relaunch the activities. Aleppo was a city brimming with merchants who today would restart, but the initial capital is lacking.”

20180214-02Instead many continue to leave

“The exodus, especially of the Christians, is irreversible. The reason is the insecurity, and lack of jobs. The Church suffers in this land which was a land of Christians before the arrival of Islam. And it is trying to do what is possible to help and support all this. But there are few resources. Most of the youths are in the army. You may find some university students, or kids. But the 25-40 age bracket is inexistent. In the city of Aleppo, the estimated further drop of Christians is 140,000 from 130,000, while many Muslims have arrived, evacuated from their destroyed cities.”

What impact does this have on interreligious dialogue?

“In Aleppo the Christians considered themselves somewhat like the élite of the country. With the war, since the Muslim zones were hit, many took refuge in the Christian zones. So the Christians opened out to the Muslims, and had to accept them. The Latin Bishop Emeritus of Aleppo, Bishop Armando Bortolaso, during the war told me: “Now’s the time to be real Christians.” At the same time the Muslims have got to know the Christians personally. They were touched by the concrete help. There are negative and positive aspects. The positive one is that this war has made us Syrians closer with one another.”

Source: Citta’ Nuova Magazine


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