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Syria: ‘Things Were Never So Bad in Aleppo Before’

By Oliver Maksan

Destruction in Aleppo; ACN photo

Destruction in Aleppo; ACN photo

NEW YORK—In an urgent appeal to the outside world, Franciscan Father Ibrahim Alsabagh is calling on Christians throughout the world to pray for the Syrian city of Aleppo, currently caught up in the midst of heavy fighting.

“Never, since the beginning of this terrible war were things as bad as they are now. I have no words to describe all the suffering I see on a daily basis,“ the friar told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

He said: “Rockets and bombs are raining down on churches, mosques, schools and hospitals. Now 17 people have been killed in an attack on our hospital. And the casualties may yet be higher. So many houses have been partially or entirely destroyed, and so many people killed or severely injured. And when the bombs do stop falling, there is an eerie silence, like in a cemetery. The streets are as though everyone has died.”

Father Alsabagh has been working for almost two years now in this divided city of northern Syria, the scene of fierce fighting between the Syrian government and rebel groups. He continued: “Whoever can escape, does so. On Sunday the roads out of the city were packed with refugees. Those who remain behind are the poorest of all, the ones who cannot even afford to look for a place of safety. We are helping them, wherever and however we can.”

The priest also reported tghat the number of “nervous breakdowns are increasing, and we now have so many psychological illnesses as a result of the war. There is so much misery. But at least I thank God that through his grace I am able to be a good Samaritan to all the suffering people. I try to console them with the word of God, but also with deeds of corporal mercy. We priests and religious have really become fathers, and still more mothers, to the people, trying to bind up their wounds tenderly, like a mother.“

Yet, the Friar concluded: “though the cross the local Christians are carrying is very heavy, this suffering also creates a communion with God and with one another such as I have never seen before. My faith and my priestly vocation have grown here in Aleppo.”


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at [email protected] or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org