Christian Minority Fears Anarchy in Damascus

Bishop Reports People’s Pleas for Help

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ALEPPO, Syria, JULY 23, 2012 ( The Chaldean bishop of Aleppo says Christians of the region are terrified that the situation of anarchy in Damascus could result in calamity for their minority population.

Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo spoke with the charity Aid to the Church in Need today.

Recalling the forced exodus of basically the entire Christian community from Homs, with nearly 120,000 people fleeing, the bishop said that the worsening situation in Aleppo and Damascus has Christian refugees turning to him for help.

«What we are afraid of is that in this situation of anarchy, armed people will come into Christian areas as they did in Homs,» he said. «If they come in around our churches and round our bishopric, just as they did in Homs, it will be disastrous for us.»

The 66-year-old prelate, who has been bishop of Aleppo for 20 years, spoke of the half-empty church for Sunday Mass, due to the people’s fears.

He said that if fighters were to go into Christian areas, «it would be very bad.»

«We are a minority. Always we are threatened,» he explained.

«Not only are Christians in this very dangerous situation but there are some Muslims too — those who are seen as sympathizers with the government,» Bishop Audo added.

«It is very difficult, especially for people from Homs, who have left everything behind. The poor people have nothing,» he said, explaining that the Church’s charity services need more food and medical care to offer the people.

«When I am asked which side do I support,» he mentioned, «I always answer, I am on the side of my country. I am doing whatever I can to save Syria, this lovely country of ours.

«What we need is your prayers for all of us. This is a very dangerous time. People are very fearful.»

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