The friars have stayed with the people.

The Minister General of the Order, Michael Perry OFM, and the new Custos of the Holy Land, Francesco Patton, OFM, have issued a statement about the terrible situation in Syria where our friars still ministered among a suffering people.

‘On our own behalf, and that of our confreres who live in the Middle East, especially in Syria, in a region which is experiencing terrible warfare and violent conflicts, we wish to express our gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for his unwavering closeness to the Syrian people at a time when they are undergoing unspeakable suffering, particularly both in the east and west of the city of Aleppo.

We wish to associate ourselves with the words of the Holy Father. “We must note with great sadness that, despite extensive efforts made in a variety of areas, the logic of arms and oppression, hidden interests and violence continues to wreak devastation. Violence begets violence, and we have the impression of being caught up in a spiral of arrogance and inertia from which there is no escape.”

We ask that the entire International Community take concrete steps to designate Aleppo a Safe Zone. We also urge countries world-wide to be as generous as possible in accepting Syrian refugees, while fully respecting national and local laws, and to offer all the assistance necessary to meet the urgent humanitarian and security needs of Syria.

We pledge our prayers and our support to all those who suffer so terribly in this war, as well as to our confreres who courageously continue to live in Syria. Through their closeness and practical service to all those weighed down by the harrowing consequences of the conflict, the friars have shown themselves to be true Good Samaritans.

May the thirst for peace, which is found in the heart of every person but especially in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Syria, be satisfied.’