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Christians in the Muslim World

Easter 2011, in Syria

Dear Friends,

 

 

In the light of the Resurrection, the announce of peace from our Lord, His breath of reconciliation, in his body, the Lamb always slaughtered, and in the fertile wound of his heart, as we kiss his tortured hands and feet, we come to you to assure you that by the grace of God we stay strong in faith, comforted by hope and passionate with love during this tragic period of deep fermentation in our Arabic homeland and in this Muslim world which is our great concern in the name of the Church.

 

 

Being a monastic community and not a political party, it is difficult for us to offer a single, unanimous analysis of on-going events. It is nevertheless impossible to keep silent and fail to express our deep pain in the face of the prevailing violence that is causing unbearable suffering. The request for large institutional reforms has been thwarted. We express our solidarity with all the victims of the on-going conflict with prayers of tears and with the renewal of our commitment to unconditional hospitality.

 

 

Among the Christians of our country there are some who do not see an alternative to the present situation other than the repression of the movement or a humiliating submission to a probable dictatorship by the majority. We, on the contrary, have always believed that it is possible to gradually build a democratic and pluralistic society able to also guarantee the rights of religious and ethnic minorities with dignity for all.

 

 

We still stand for non-violence. The conflict is nourished by the reciprocal fears. Only dialogue that respects the view points of others will lead to reconciliation and to justice as well.

 

 

The damage suffered by the Syrian society is already irreversible. We ask for the loving patience of God to show us our duty during this time. Looking ahead, we believe that real democracy is not just something for Westerners or a misguided idea. In his speech to the ministers the Syrian President said that the Arabic peoples are as able to achieve democracy as anybody else!

 

 

Syria is wedged between Lebanon, troubled by confessional divisions, Iraq, characterized by general insecurity and sectarian split, and Israel always perceived as the enemy. Because of the forces and interests involved, it is our national unity that is threatened. The loss of it will not go without a long and bloody civil war. We are convinced that a large majority of Syrians recognize themselves as a united community within a shared civilization. We still hope that true freedom of expression may allow the opinions of many people to be heard. Only this will make change possible without bloodshed.

 

 

We still want to believe -- and we are still ready to participate -- according to our monastic duties in this difficult and urgent process of discerning what must be done and how.

 

 

The powerful importance placed on renewal by youth today should be recognized and emphasized. We seek the growth of a civil society in democracy and pluralism which will make it possible for individual behavior to be free from the trappings of the clannish and confessional belongings.

 

 

We pray that the deadly cycle of vengeance will be stopped and a mean will be found to stop the spread of violence. We also pray that our people will be able to avoid all terroristic temptations.

 

 

Our deepest desire is to achieve reconciliation among all people. Justice and forgiveness always reinforce each other. In the monastery, we see every day the positive effects of the change of life which is only possible when forgiveness is offered.

 

 

We have been in Deir Mar Musa for about three decades and ten years in Qaryatayn. The good will of people is a virtue that does not depend on institutional context. We will continue to seek and continue to promote good will wherever it is found in the everyday practice of hope. We mean and we want to tell you that the choice to come to our country as tourists is a concrete act of solidarity on behalf of our troubled civil society.

 

 

Your prayers and your help fill our hearts with thanks. Life should go ahead anyway. It is easy to imagine that, given the situation, we have some extra material worries. We go ahead with our projects calmly and wisely (the new dairy is achieved and starts to work; the actions to make the al-Hayek monastery accessible to handicapped persons will be soon fully implemented; the environmental commitment and particularly the fight against desertification still go ahead; the new hostel project is starting; the building of flats for young families in Nebek parish makes good progress. In Qaryatayn archeological excavations, new constructions, agricultural and craft activities move forward. In Cori the Syrian students of the Community, one monk and two nuns, express their suffering in solidarity with the Country in the practice of the demanding asceticism of their scientific commitment).

 

 

So thank you so much for your friendship!

 

 

In the East, all during Easter time, we extend to each other the wish of the feast saying: “Christ has risen!” and answering: “He has risen indeed!” It is in this spirit that we have written to you in the strength of communion which unites us.

 

 

the Community of al-Khalil

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