Father Hugo Alaniz, an Argentine missionary serving with the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Aleppo, Syria, called for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on the country, arguing that they have prevented it from recovering from the devastation caused by earthquakes and war.
At the Night of the Witnesses, an occasion held in Mexico and sponsored by the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Alaniz was one of the speakers.
The missionary emphasized Syria's "very sad economic situation" in an interview with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner, on March 7 in Mexico City.
The priest bemoaned that "people don't have jobs and those who work have very low salaries" and claimed that "the economic blockade is causing great suffering today."
He stated that the Church and other organizations from outside the nation needed to assist families at this time.
Christians in Syria "appreciate this help, but what we want is for the country to recover on its own," Alaniz said in a statement.
Since 2011, a number of nations, including the European Union and the United States, have imposed various economic sanctions on Syria in an effort to destabilize President Bashar al-Assad's administration, who has been charged with violating human rights.
The sanctions have hindered humanitarian efforts in the wake of the earthquake that struck the area on February 6 and its numerous aftershocks, which have hampered Syria's ability to rebuild after more than ten years of civil war.
Christian leaders in Syria urged the international community to lift economic sanctions at the beginning of February in order to promote employment and humanitarian aid.
Alaniz bemoaned, "First the war, then the aftermath," the state of affairs in Syria. After a war, difficult circumstances arise.
Because people are preoccupied with numerous needs, he continued, these "situations" "unfortunately often lead to actions far from Christian morality."
The missionary stated that the consequences were "very sad,", particularly in Turkey, but they also had a significant impact on northern Syria, which includes the city of Aleppo.
"An additional earthquake occurred on February 20, and aftershocks are still occurring. There were daily aftershocks of at least 50 after the initial earthquake.
According to Alaniz, "our mission is the church's mission; it is to impart a vision of faith, which is living with hope. Curiously, these families are frequently the ones who are delivering this message to us.
"The church these days is on a mission to be welcoming, to be close to families, especially Christian families, but also Muslim families," the missionary priest emphasized.
In this period of fear brought on by the problem of earthquakes and tremors, "all the churches, all the parish centers, opened to receive the people," he said.