A disaster was averted in Aleppo when a mortar shell hit a church Sunday evening. The mortar failed to pierce the roof, exploding outside instead. Four hundred people were gathered in the church at the time attending mass.
”If the grenade had exploded inside, there would have been a massacre,” said Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo. “Instead, only seven worshippers were injured, not in a serious way, when rubble fell down and the roof was damaged.”
Christians in Syria have been caught in the crossfire of the civil war. They have been targeted by jihadi groups as infidels and severely persecuted. Hundreds of Assyrian Christians have been kidnapped, with the Islamic State demanding exorbitant ransoms amid threats to turn the women into sex slaves.
Still, a senior Christian leader in Syria has made a plea to his flock not to leave. “The almost communal wave of youth emigration, especially in Syria, but also in Lebanon and Iraq breaks my heart, wounding me deeply and dealing me a deadly blow,” Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III said in an open letter, as reported to the Catholic Herald.
“Given this tsunami of emigration … what future is left for the Church? What will become of our homeland? What will become of our parishes and institutions?” Gregorios asked.