Cardinal Zenari - Copyright: Vatican Media

APPEAL: For ‘Tormented’ Syria, Hit by Bombs & Poverty, ‘Time Is Running Out’ — Cardinal Zenari Appeals to Diplomats in Vatican

After Bombs of War, 80% of Country Hit by ‘Bomb of Poverty’, Cardinal Parolin Welcomes Apostolic Nuncio to Middle East Nation ‘Hit by Litany of Horrors’

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A litany of horrors every day comes to us from that tormented nation

Time is running out..

Following rockets, the bomb of poverty has hit 80 percent of the country’s population…

Children and elderly are dying… war is claiming lives… the qualified are leaving…

These were just a few of the horrific messages conveyed by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, who met yesterday, Oct. 15, members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, as an opportunity to rekindle attention towards the situation in Syria, which has been prostrated by almost ten years of violence, reported a Vatican statement.

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, was also present.

Introducing Cardinal Mario Zenari, Cardinal Parolin expressed his hope that the world will not grow accustomed to the «litany of horrors that every day comes to us from that tormented nation.»

Humanitarian Catastrophe Persists

Lamenting that Syria has seemed to disappear from «media radar,» Cardinal Zenari underscored that, regardless, the humanitarian catastrophe persists, and following the rockets, now the «bomb of poverty», which has hit 80% of the population, is the greatest cause for concern.

At the moment, some 11 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Cardinal Zenari expressed his gratitude for the generosity of so many States and Institutions, especially the United Nations Agencies, which have set up a series of humanitarian projects, and spoke of the many urgencies affecting the country, first and foremost health care, also in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But, he highlighted, «time is running out.»

Syria, he illustrated, is currently an «expanse of ghost villages», strewn with rubble, and «many Syrians have lost hope.» He called on people of good will to not allow hope to die.

Many Open Wounds, including Children Dying

According to the Vatican statement, the nunzio also addressed delicate question of the sanctions imposed on Syria, «and how these inexorably affect the population.»

«Among the country’s many open wounds,» it noted that His Eminence «spoke of the children and the elderly who have died in the cold winter; the departure of qualified young people, as well as those lost to the war; the repatriation of refugees; and the problem of the many missing and detained people.»

Appealing for an international response and radical long-term solutions, also in light of Pope Francis’ many speeches on Syria and the recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti,  he reminded: ‘We need to develop the awareness that today we are either all saved together or no one is saved» (no. 137).

At the end of his address, His Eminence Cardinal Mario Zenari answered several questions from those present.

The topics dealt with included relations between religious communities in Syria; the need for economic recovery at various levels for the reconstruction of the country; the consequences of the conflict on the presence of Christians in the region; the educational emergency; the situation of women; and the need for additional financial resources for the «Open Hospitals» project, three Catholic hospitals in Damascus and Aleppo to which free access is granted to the sick regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief.

Cardinal Parolin concluded the meeting with words of gratitude and reiterating «the importance of seeking new solutions and of not abandoning Syria under a blanket of silence and indifference.»


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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