“The fact is that the situation is not calm, the movement is still going on, and violence
is still growing,” says Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, founder of the monastic community at
Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi in Syria.
In the midst of the growing conflict in
Syria, the monks and nuns of the Community dedicated a week of prayer for reconciliation
and peace in their country. “We call it spiritual jihad, spiritual effort,”
Fr. Dall’Oglio said. “People think it means the holy war, but it means, first and
last, the spiritual effort, to face the mutual violence with a mutual, deep desire
for reconciliation.” He said young people especially took part in the week of prayer.
“We have been seeing in these days youth coming to the monastery from all parts of
Syria, [of] all religious belongings, all political stands, and able to pray together
and to ask the help of God for real reconciliation.”
Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi
(the Monastery of Saint Moses the Assyrian) is a Syriac Catholic monastic community
located in the mountains of Nebek in northern Syria. The monastery traces its roots
to the sixth century, although the current building was constructed in 1058.
Dall’Oglio’s call for peace and reconciliation came as Syria’s main opposition groups
joined together to call on the international community to take action to protect Syrian
people facing a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests. In a statement issued
on Sunday they rejected foreign intervention that “compromises Syria's sovereignty”
but said the outside world had a humanitarian obligation to protect the Syrian people.
was a call echoed by Fr. Dall’Oglio, who said, “Syria is important for everybody,
so everybody should do something for Syria.” Listen to the full interview of
Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio with Christopher Wells:
in conclusion of the week of fasting, prayer and sakina (God-inspired peace of the
soul) for reconciliation between the children of Mother Syria at the monastery of
Mar Musa al-Habashi.
Monks and nuns of the monastery dedicated themselves,
with friends and a number of visitors from the vast Syrian mosaic, to fast and prayer.
We met daily in the church to read the Gospel, recite the Quran and meditate on a
selection of texts about non-violent activism for reform, through forgiveness, through
a dialogue based on brotherly reciprocal listening, through the acceptance of difference
without conditions. A large number of friends (people and organizations) from around
the world joined us in spirit, which made us feel deeply in communion and unity before
Fear, pessimism and division penetrate even into the heart of homes
or monasteries. But, during these blessed days, we realized that we could succeed
in communication between us, Arabs and foreigners, men and women, practitioners and
humanists, opponents and supporters, only by refusing to consider ourselves the sole
possessors of right opinions and patriotic virtues. The creativity that young Syrians
show in communication and tolerance encourages us in our efforts.
for truth. We want to get rid of lies. What drives us on our path is our love for
Syria and our confidence in its people. There will be no joy or success in our common
social life, whether in the home or the country, if we continue to exclude the other
by impairing his dignity, his goods, his liberty, his integrity or his quality of
We reject the spirit of confessional civil war, as well as armed
struggle in all its forms. We believe that placing hope in an armed foreign intervention
is a serious mistake. However, we believe in constructive solidarity among citizens
of good will around the world. In "dialogue and reform", the first is impossible without
true freedom of opinion and expression, which by its pluralism contributes to objectivity.
The current situation calls for a spiritual solidarity from the human family as a
whole, without falling into idealism or forgetting the risks of conspiracy. Similarly,
reform will not succeed without respecting the citizens’ equal integrity, notably
with the help of independent civilian coordination committees.
The sound of
bullets prevails in the streets of the country, accompanied by the groans of the wounded,
the detained, the missing and the hungry. What is left to us ? Only our vow of non-fanatism,
non-slipping into personal interest. Only our perseverance in seeking God and brothers,
right in the middle of this situation, so that the crisis is overcome, with the help
of the Merciful. Amen.