The destruction and visible impact of the Syrian war may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who just arrived back from Syria last on March 8, 2019, told CBCP News that the damages are devastating but the war is also destroying the people’s trust.
“I saw first hand the ravages of war, not only buildings, schools, and houses but lives really. And the most painful of all, the destruction of trust,” Tagle said.
“People are saying ‘yes, we are returning to our villages but with constant fear. We do not know whom to trust,’” he said.
The cardinal was speaking at the launching of a new book which chronicles the history of the Manila Cathedral on Saturday.
On Ash Wednesday, the president of Caritas Internationalis visited eastern Ghouta, a suburban area in southwestern Syria, which for years was a symbol of jihadist violence.
Accompanied by Catholic prelates in Syria and Caritas workers, he saw people living amid the rubbles and destruction.
According to him, the war has damaged the foundation of relationships and repairing it will be a greater challenge than rebuilding infrastructure.
“How do you recover trust? As you rebuild the houses, are you also rebuilding trust?” he asked.
But Tagle added that he was edified by how “people of faith and selfless love” could help the “wounds of society”.
At a school he visited with about 1,800 pupils cramped in temporary classrooms, Tagle saw how Caritas pastoral workers are engaging the children.
“Later on they (children) would smile and say ‘thank you, you have brought new light to our otherwise dark existence,’” he said.