Bishop Antoine Audo SJ is the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo and president of Caritas Syria. Recently two of his close friends, both bishops, have been kidnapped and disappeared. He’s in Ireland this week as a guest of Trocaire. He says he wants to thank the Irish people for their generous aid that’s so needed in his country. And he’s telling people, ‘do not forget us in Syria and urge those in powerful countries to give up their vested interests and start negotiating for peace.’ You can listen here to an interview he gave to Pat Coyle in Jesuit Communications Ireland.
In that interview Bishop Audo spoke of conditions in Syria, particularly in Aleppo and Homms, cities that have been ravaged by warring factions. He said there was real poverty there for everyone, even those who were previously well off. He told the story of engineers and doctors coming to their aid shelters looking for food baskets but ashamed to have to ask.
He said Syria was a beautiful country where people lived for many years as a country, as a civilisation and a culture without hate or violence. ‘Most people are not interested in sectarian divisions. We just want to work and live as we did before the war, when people of all faiths co-existed peacefully’.
But he says this will not happen unless the major powers who have vested interests in Syria, give up their own agendas and start talking and working together for peace. He says violence will never bring about victory and only dialogue that is truly meant, will bring an end to war. Furthermore, he says that Catholics and orthodox must act as true Christians, and Muslims and people of other faiths must act as true citizens, working for the good of all and the future good of Syria.