Two years ago, Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh was asked to move to a destination of war, the terrorized Syrian city of Aleppo, where life under the bombs is becoming unbearable.
Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh: St. Francis of Assisi (Aleppo): “We see buildings that are destroyed, houses that are destroyed or damaged, but that’s nothing compared to what we see daily: people who are destroyed on the inside because of this war.”
Despite the daily sufferings of no electricity or water, a new layer of poverty encircling everyone, and being completely surrounded by violence, Fr. Alsabagh says the war has not defeated the faith of the Christians in Aleppo.
This priest’s constant work and his initiatives have improved the lives of the Aleppan people. He says that simple things like this, a meeting for children or the distribution of food for families are powerful signs of hope.
Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh: St. Francis of Assisi (Aleppo): “We are not able to manage the crisis, but as a Church we try to give a hand, to give the best of ourselves, to offer relief and to lighten the cross of the people.”
Where there was a community of about 300,000 Christians, it is estimated that now there are only about 30,000. They suffer the ferocity of war like the rest of the Syrians; however, they have often been the target of attacks for the simple fact that they are Christians.
Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh: St. Francis of Assisi (Aleppo): “When a church is attacked during Sunday Mass at the busy time of communion, and the dome bombarded to bring down the entire roof and kill hundreds of people, it’s not by chance. There are attacks in which we feel that Christians are the target.”
In a few days, Fr. Alsabagh will leave Europe and return to Aleppo, probably the most dangerous city in the world. But neither he, nor many other religious, intend to leave.
Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh: St. Francis of Assisi (Aleppo): “It’s wonderful to know that 99 percent of priests from the Catholic and Eastern rites have stayed with their people, with their flock, and not abandoned them. And they could have easily left.”
Fr. Alsabagh asks for prayers for Syria and a commitment to peace and dialogue from the international community. He hopes nobody would have to go through what the inhabitants of Aleppo are experiencing, a place which was once the jewel of Syria.