Via Deacon Greg Kandra comes this story of a tiny community of Trappist nuns living in civil war-torn Syria. Despite the danger and mounting tensions in the region, the five nuns are determined to stay in their monastery, which was founded in 2005.
From an interview conducted with one of the nuns, who is Italian, for an Italian news site:
So you deliberately chose to live in a place where Christians are in the minority?
Exactly. Here the population is mostly Shiite Muslim, but there are also Sunnis and Alawites; geographically we are at a crossroads. How do you try to establish a dialogue? In the manner of our order, by founding a monastery, living the Trappist life and building relationships of friendship with the people we come in contact with and among whom we live. And how does the local population see this “mission”? In fact, the bulk of the problems have arisen recently. Up until two years ago, for centuries the citizens of different religions were accustomed to live in peace, in friendship, closeness and cooperation, without worrying too much whether one was Muslim or Christian, and so on.
The area you live in is still fairly quiet, but if things fall apart, what will you do?
We are simply here, open and available, according to our Rule. We will have to see what happens; in the present state of things one cannot make predictions, but it is our intent to stay close to the population, and they are grateful for the fact that we have not moved.
Meanwhile, Catholic News Agency reports that the case of two bishops kidnapped in Syria in late April is growing direr with each passing day, as one of the bishops, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, may face life-threatening illness without his blood-pressure and diabetes medication. The two were kidnapped nine days ago in the Syrian province of Aleppo.
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