La Santa Sede Menu Ricerca
La Curia Romana  



greater synergy between bishops and agencies,
more effective coordination of information,
priority with projects of education and work

(May 30, 2014


A meeting of coordination of Catholic charitable agencies working within the context of the Syrian crisis was held on Friday, 30th of May, organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. It was attended by 25 entities active in Syria and the neighboring countries that host Syrian refugees. After the introductory greetings from Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of Cor Unum, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin gave his address. After him, Mons. Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, Mons. Antoine Audo, president of Caritas Syria and Dr. Joseph Farrah, president of Caritas MONA gave their interventions. In the afternoon, the charitable organizations met the Holy Father, who delivered to them his appeal for peace in Syria.

First of all, all the participants expressed their gratitude for the welcome they had received by the Holy Father during the meeting. He particularly thanked all charitable agencies for their work in Syria and encouraged them to continue faithfully the work of humanitarian assistance that has been undertaken. The participants made their own the Pope’s appeal to the international community for a call to a quick resuming of peace negotiations that will bring an immediate and complete end to hostilities and the guarantee of being able to provide the necessary humanitarian aid, while respecting the dignity of every person. Finally, the participants expressed their general appreciation for the initiative carried out in continuation of the meeting of June 4-5, 2013. At the beginning, Cardinal Robert Sarah reiterated the importance of “these meetings that allow us to get to know each other and lay the foundation for establishing and consolidating new forms of collaboration and more effective and fruitful coordination.

During the gathering, three main areas emerged on which Catholic organizations have agreed to focus their attention and energy: 1) work within Syria, 2) work in the context of the regional level, 3) the priorities for the future.

Following the course taken in the last two years, it has been established to first continue the institutional strengthening of Caritas Syria. In order to create a concrete coordination for projects developed within the country, it was proposed to establish a permanent working group, which will meet on a regular basis at Damascus and which will see to the active participation of the actors on the field. In fact, the priority is to create a greater synergy between the direct action of the local bishops and that of other domestic and foreign organizations, in order to also achieve an ever-increasing professionalism in the service of charity.

Secondly, it has been confirmed the availability of a greater collaboration between the different actors in the crisis, with the aim of strengthening mutual exchange of information thanks to the work of the regional office established in 2013 in Beirut, which in the last year has demonstrated its usefulness. To this end, it has been emphasized the need to continue searching for a more effective form of management and evaluation of the structure of such office, defining in more detail terms the work that it must carry out.

Finally, the meeting pointed out the need to focus on certain priorities for facing the crisis. In view of this, a special contribution of Catholic organizations is to encourage the creation, development and implementation of projects of reconciliation, in close collaboration with the local communities, with a more personal approach to humanitarian aid and with attention and assistance towards individual persons. Other priorities of intervention are in the educational and labor areas. About 18 agencies are currently active in the field of education, with an allocated sum of nearly $18 million dollars destined to help more than 310,000 school age children. Thousands are still lacking basic, educational and professional schooling with the risk that more generations are not able to effectively contribute to the reconstruction of the country once the conflict is over. In the end, in line with the words of the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed during the morning, the charitable agencies have agreed on the need to undertake appropriate advocacy towards civil governments and an outreach work in their respective countries of origin about the seriousness of the war and the humanitarian situation that it causes. It was an appeal to battle indifference, as the Holy Father said during a granted audience: “There is the risk of getting used to the war, - as the Holy Father emphasized - : of forgetting the daily victims, the unspeakable suffering, the thousands of refugees, among them the elderly and children, who are suffering and at times dying of hunger and disease caused by the war. Yet again”- Pope Francis concluded - we must repeat the name of the disease that plagues us so much in the world today: the globalization of indifference.”

For this reason, the participants in the meeting, counteracting the difficulties that hinder the work of humanitarian assistance by the various entities of the Catholic Church (lack of security, lack of communication within the country and access in some areas, the scarcity of available resources in other areas), reiterated their readiness to help all victims of war, regardless of ethnic or religious backgrounds, in the confidence that this great effort will lay the foundations for reconciliation and the reconstruction of the country, safeguarding territorial integrity and in respect of all the communities, which are present there, including Christians and every other minority.