Graces archpastors, reverend fathers, dear brothers and sisters!
For nearly two years hostilities continued in Syria. During this time, tens of thousands of people died in the country, including many old people, women, and children of civilians.
A significant part of the Syrian people are our fellow believers: in the city of Damascus is the center of one of the oldest Orthodox Patriarchates - the Antioch. And now on the streets of this city, remembering the apostle Paul, the exploits and labors of the ancient saints, human blood is being shed. In this biblical land, where Orthodox Christians and Muslims lived side by side in the world, shrines are being desecrated today, temples are being defiled, Christians are being driven out of their homes, persecuted, and often tortured and killed.
Destroyed homes, destroyed infrastructure, not enough food and medicine, many people lost their homes. Someone went to relatives, someone found shelter in special points, and someone was forced to flee to neighboring countries, where often no one was waiting for them.
Our people just recently experienced this. During the years of revolution, civil war, and persecution of the Church, thousands of our compatriots were destroyed. Among them were many hierarchs, priests, monks and laity. We honor the feat of the new martyrs and confessors of Russia. And at the same time they should not be indifferently looking at how innocent blood is being shed again.
You and I cannot stop this war, but we can earnestly pray for its early termination and assist the suffering people, including our fellow Christians.
The Lord Jesus Christ in the parable of the merciful Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37) clearly indicates who we should consider our neighbor: the one who needs help. Even if it is a person of other views, another faith, living in another place. After all, it was such a person for the merciful Samaritan who was injured at the hands of robbers.
I ask you to follow the call of Christ and help our neighbors, that is, those who are now particularly in need of support and participation.
To this end, I bless in the coming Sunday in all the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church to organize a fundraiser to help those in need in Syria. Funds should be sent to the accounts of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service, which is entrusted to coordinate this good undertaking. At the end of the general church collection, the funds will be transferred to the Antioch Patriarchate.
I pray for the cessation of bloodshed and the restoration of peace on the Syrian land and I hope that your sacrifices will be favorable before God.
+ CYRILL, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA