The event, which drew a large crowd, included a series of testimonies and ended with a prayer. Its aim was to show solidarity with the persecuted, reassuring them they are not suffering alone.
Bishop Audo drew attention to the richness and diversity of Christianity in Syria, where the faith has been present for two millennia. “We have the capacity to live with Islam,” he said. “We are inculturated within the Arab culture.”
But he said the situation is now “very bad”, especially in his city, ravaged by the continuing civil war in the country. “There is constant indiscriminate bombing leaving a lot of victims, many wounded. There is no work, no electricity, life is very expensive, and the number of churches is drastically decreasing. For us, we’re experiencing the end of a church and of [Christian] tradition.”
This week the United Nations said the situation in Aleppo was “catastrophic”, after airstrikes on and around a Médecins Sans Frontières backed hospital killed dozens, with more than 30 dead in other attacks. The Red Cross has warned Aleppo is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster with millions of lives at risk.
Bishop Audo said the evening, organized by the charity Aid to the Church in Need, was important because it helped take the issue of persecuted Christians, particularly in Syria, “out into the world.”