Refugees in Syria Anticipate Meeting Pope Francis

Will Recount Stories of Fear and Pain with Pontiff

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Pope Francis will hear, first-hand, tragic tales of Syrian refugees, a senior official of a humanitarian organization has said.

A Syrian Muslim refugee from Homs and a Christian Iraqi refugee will be presented to the Pope during his meeting with refugees, the sick and disabled in Bethany beyond the Jordan on Saturday, according to Wael Suleiman, director of Caritas Jordan.

Suleiman said they will all share stories full of pain and fatigue with the Holy Father. Caritas Jordan is involved in organizing the brief but intense papal visit to the Jordanian territory.  

The meeting with the Pope will be held in a church, unfinished and unconsecrated, that stands on the site of the Baptism, the place where Jesus, according to tradition, went to be baptized by John the Baptist.

Among the more than 400,0000 expected will be at least 50 Syrian and Iraqi refugees – both Christians and Muslims – housed in the Hashemite Kingdom, who will give works of craft to the Pope.

Pope Francis will also meet more than 350 disabled and sick people from more than 20 hospitals and health centers in Jordan. Among them, there will also be some children suffering from oncological diseases.

Hundreds of volunteers of Caritas Jordan are involved in the organization of the brief, but intense papal visit in the Jordanian territory. In Bethany beyond the Jordan, after the end of the meeting with the Pope, they will serve dinner to all those present.

«The Syrian and Iraqi refugees are looking forward to the Pope’s visit and are filled with hope and trepidation,» Suleiman said. «Among Iraqis, some have been living the refugee status for over twenty years.”

He added: “Everyone expects the world will remember them, and that something will really change. I experienced it a few days ago, when Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga visited our country as President of Caritas Internationalis, and celebrated Mass in Amman. There were more than 700 families of Christian refugees from Syria.”

Among the Syrian refugees, «Christians are certainly more than 20,000. A small number compared to the mass of one million and 300,000 refugees who fled the Syrian conflict who, according to government data in Amman, are hosted in Jordan. But it is unlikely that Christians will return to Syria at the end of the war.

«This means that in some cities, like Homs and Aleppo, many Christian neighborhoods will remain empty,” said Suleiman. (D.C.L.)

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