10/26/2019 Syria (International Christian Concern) – Syria, in its present war-torn, broken state, while an immediate detriment to its inhabitants and concern to its neighbors, has presented the Church with a unique opportunity to serve its neighbors. Such a task is no easy matter, but the door of boundless possibilities has been opened nonetheless by the ongoing tragedies within the country.
Bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo has come to an understanding of the nature of mission work on the frontlines of the faith. In an article published by AsiaNews, a Catholic news agency which focusses on matters in the East, the bishop outlined his thoughts regarding his ongoing outreach work. They must be rather cautious in how they speak and act in Syria; the Bishop recalled that “in Syria, they cannot use the word ‘missionary,’” because it has, “it has the meaning of ‘colonizer.’” As unfortunate as it is, such terms, “have their weight and can lend themselves to misunderstandings, generate divergences and divisions.” His only suggestion to overcome the tense culture was to maintain “respect for others” and “attention to the poor, with listening and true solidarity.” To Audo, remaining in the country, despite the conflict, is what it means to live as a missionary, listening and serving the people around him.
This attitude matches well with the movements of the Vatican, as the Pope inaugurated an Extraordinary Missionary Month, calling Christians of all backgrounds to “make gifts of themselves” to the world and those around them. This was not merely an arbitrary decision, as 100 years prior to his announcement, Pope Benedict XV penned the letter Maximum Illud, proclaiming mission work to spurred forward across the world in the wake of the First World War. In the midst of so many tragedies worldwide today, the opportunities for ministering to those suffering, starving, and dying abroad are truly boundless, and the Pope is right to make such a public note of it.