ASIA/SYRIA - The Jesuit Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio in prayer in Qusayr to stop the sectarian conflict

Qusayr (Agenzia Fides) - The minaret wakes him in the night, but in doing so, "helps him in prayer before dawn, that of the monks of the East". An oasis of prayer "in the middle of the fight, in an enclosed city; constant prayer, disturbed by machine guns." This is the Jesuit Father Paolo Dall'Oglio the Catholic priest who has settled in Qusayr, city in the south of Homs, plagued by violence, to experience prolonged fasting and prayer for peace. As revealed in past days by Fides, he wants to be "a signal against the tide", a non-violent way of living and witnessing faith in Christ in the midst of the conflict. The Jesuit will be in Qusayr for at least eight days, living the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. "I chose Qusayr because, with my presence, I will try to heal the sectarian polarization that has occurred in the city. I heard the cry of some Christian families who have seen their loved ones abducted and I would like to do my best, with prayer and dialogue, to recompose the divisions," explains Fr. Dall'Oglio to Fides. In the city there has been increasing conflict between Muslims and Christians, with a long trail of kidnappings, revenge killings. Armed gangs of militians out of control, ascribable to the galaxy of the Syrian opposition, have carried out violence against Christians. The Christian André Arbache, 30 years old, in January, was kidnapped and later found dead. Many other Christians are victims of kidnappings. Qusayr is a town where there lived a greek-catholic community among the largest in Syria, about 10 thousand people, along with 15 thousand Sunni Muslims. "The Christians - explains Fr. Dall'Oglio – have almost all fled from the city, there are very few. " The Jesuit is a guest of a Catholic family, as the parish house in Qusayr is not a safe place. "My prayer and my presence wants to also be a sign of hope, so that Syrians can blossom this spring, to a future of unity and dialogue characterized by pluralism," he remarks. Around him a web of relationships torn by the dynamics of violence is being rebuilt, which easily turns into a spiral of hatred and revenge between individuals, families, communities of different religions. The key words are "reconciliation and forgiveness, brotherhood in the name of God." Hoping to build, even with prayer, a more humane Syria, respectful of the dignity and rights of all. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/5/2012)