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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Vatican at work in Aleppo

On behalf of the Holy Father, from 18 to 23 January, the Chief Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Monsignor Giampietro Dal Toso, visited Aleppo, together with Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria and the Counsellor of the Nunciature, Monsignor Thomas Habib.  This was the first official visit by a Representative of the Holy See following the end of the hostilities in Aleppo.

The delegation was able to meet the Christian community and their pastors, who expressed gratitude to the Pope for his constant concern for beloved Syria.  They also visited Catholic care institutions and some of the refugee camps.  In particular, a humanitarian assistance centre which is run by Caritas Aleppo in the Hannano neighbourhood.  During their mission, they participated in an ecumenical moment of prayer organized as part of the week of prayer for the unity of Christians and witnessed the conditions in some Catholic hospital settings, in the light of future plans to rebuild and re-open them.  They also met with representatives of Islam; during their meetings, religious and educative responsibility for peace and reconciliation were discussed.  In the course of the visit, civil and religious authorities paid homage to the delegation, expressing particular gratitude for the Holy Father's offer to elevate to the dignity of Cardinal,  the Pontifical Representative in that country and recognizing in this gesture the special closeness of the Pope to the martyred people of Syria.

Finally, in their meetings with Catholic charity organizations, the importance of the assistance provided was pointed out, to the benefit of all Syrian people.  With the support of the universal Church, and thanks to the generous contribution of the international community, it is hoped that this assistance will intensify in the future in order to meet the growing needs of the Syrian people.  Among the most immediate concerns, those relating to the need for food, clothing, eduction, health and housing should be highlighted.
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