“Thank you for the hope and the vitality you have given us”. These are the words that Maria Voce addressed to the Focolare communities of Syria through a video message at the end of her visit to Syria from the 1st to the 8th of May.
These were intense days in which the Focolare president, together with the co-president, Jesús Morán, visited the cities of Homs, Kafarbo, Seydnaya and Damascus. They met communities, people engaged in parishes or in social works, families, children, young people, priests and religious. They were received by bishops and by the Apostolic Nuncio – Cardinal Mario Zenari.
They experienced first-hand the terrible wounds that the war has left on the structures and on the souls of the Syrian people – traumas and tragedies of all kinds. They got to know the inside story of the difficult, almost desperate situation of a country that had become the puppet of numerous external forces – a country which suffered a heavy economic war, even before the military conflict was over. So how is it possible that Maria Voce ended this visit by thanking the Syrian people for the hope and strength received from them?
One of the keys to understanding this is undoubtedly the last stage of the visit. At the invitation of the Melkite Patriarch, Monsignor Youssef Absi, 230 young people from diferent denominations met on Monday 6th May at the Greek Catholic Cathedral in Damascus. On this occasion while answering their questions, Maria Voce made a strong appeal to the Syrian youth: “Do not let your values be stolen from you. Join all the young people who want a better world. The world is waiting for you.”
Later the co-president, Jesús Morán, explained the profound motivation of these words: “These young people have experienced that everything collapses; yet they have preserved a deep thirst for God and a true sense of community. Perhaps they are not completely aware of it, but they are in an ideal spiritual situation, from which great things can grow.”
What needs to be done, then, to create the conditions in which these seeds of hope can grow and flourish in Syria?
Anyone who knows at least a little about the past and recent history of this country, might suggest a double solution fto help people stay in Syria and the Syrians in peace. The first part of the solution would be for all the conflict to cease. The second part of the solution would be for all the great powers of the Middle East and of all the other parts of the world that want to exploit Syria, to leave the country to find its own way.
These Syrian people, who, according to Maria Voce, have such strength and such tenderness, are more than capable of taking their destiny into their own hands.