Archbishop Jacques Mourad of Homs (Syria) Archbishop Jacques Mourad of Homs (Syria) 

Archbishop Mourad: Two-state solution only way to end 'hell' in Holy Land

The newly-appointed Archbishop of Homs, Syria, Archbishop Julian Yacoub Mourad, reiterates that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is the only way toward a just and sustainable peace in the entire region, decrying the political agendas of international powers.

By Lisa Zengarini

“The evil spirit, at this time, is pushing the world into hell and we really live in hell,” said Archbishop Jacques Mourad of Homs, Syria, in an impassioned plea for a just peace in the Holy Land and all the Middle East.

“If you want to see Hell, you have to come to Lebanon, Syria and now especially to the Holy Land.”

The Syriac Catholic monk, who was appointed by Pope Francis to the helm of the Archdiocese and was ordained a bishop on 3 March 2023, became internationally known in 2015 when terrorists from the so-called Islamic State kidnapped him from the Mar Elian monastery in Syria and held him hostage for several months.

In a comment sent to Fides agency on the current tragic events in the region, Archbishop Mourad didn’t mince his words.

Innocent people living hell

“We witness the atrocious death of thousands of innocent people in a few days, the bombing of places of care and suffering, those very places which should be the last strongholds of humanity,” he said. “We see hostages violently abducted from their homes, humanitarian organizations struck in their action to bring relief to bodies and souls hurt by war, and international institutions which can only show their helplessness because no decision really seems to be in their hands.”

In his testimony, the Archbishop of Homs recalled that the humanitarian situation continues to be dire in war- and earthquake-stricken Syria.

“When I travel around my diocese, every day I see elderly people and children, men and women, looking for something to eat in the garbage. When the cold weather begins, none of them will have the means and resources to heat their homes. This is hell,” he said, pointing to the responsibilities of “insatiable powers” pursuing “insatiable interests” in the region.

Evil cannot be eradicated by evil

Regarding the war ravaging the Holy Land, Archbishop Mourad decried the “inhumane” violence perpetrated by both sides.

“It is not humane for Palestinians to kill Israelis in kibbutzim. And it is not humane for Israelis to bomb churches and hospitals,” he lamented. “Evil cannot be eradicated by evil.”

“We were shocked and distressed to see bombs dropped on hospitals in Homs and Aleppo. Today, this is happening again in Gaza.”

“He who wants to eliminate the evil that destroys bodies and souls must first eliminate the evil of hearts, and the purification of hearts always comes after justice, not by force”, the Syrian prelate stressed.

Two-state solution only way toward peace

He insisted on the two-state solution advocated worldwide, including Pope Francis, as both Israelis and Palestinians, he said, have a right to have a State of their own.

“Palestinians have the right to live in freedom in their own land. This land is also theirs. Since 1948, they have lived as refugees in camps scattered across the Middle East, and today, the same is true for millions of Syrians.”

Archbishop Mourad further noted that Palestinians, whose suffering has been ignored “for decades”, are victims of violence “not only from the Israeli army but also from other countries”, including Arab countries, that have their own agendas and reject “the very idea of seeing two peoples living together in two States.”

“If the world tolerates and justifies this, it confirms injustice and takes away hope,” he said, warning that this unresolved question concerns the future of the entire world.

Long-term, worldwide effects of the war

“We are not only responsible for what is happening today in war zones; we will be asked to account for the future at a global level, with all the consequences of war in terms of mass migration, the creation of new refugee camps, and the depletion of vital resources such as water,” he said.

In this regard, Archbishop Mourad welcomed Pope Francis' upcoming visit to Dubai (UAE) for COP-28. "This," he noted, "also shows the Church's concern for the climate and environmental emergency and the life and wellbeing of people and the world."

Archbishop Soueif: risk of mass migration

Archbishop Youssef Soueif of Tripoli, Lebanon, made similar remarks recently to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Speaking during a visit to the international headquarters of the Pontifical Foundation, Archbishop Soueif emphasized the need for a just and lasting solution for both Israel and Palestine, warning that the conflict could drag on and trigger an open war in the region.

Pointing to the fact that Lebanon has more refugees than natives, including 2.5 million Syrians and half a million Palestinians, the Lebanese prelate highlighted the risk of mass emigration, which “could also affect Europe if the crisis is not resolved.”

Pope Francis: War is "mother of all poverty" 

And on Friday, Pope Francis again turned his thoughts to the many wars ravaging several parts of the world.

“War is the ‘mother of all poverty,’ especially affecting civilians and families”, the Pope recalled in a post on X (formerly Twitter), calling for ongoing efforts “so that #Peace may prevail as a gift of God and the result of our commitment to justice and dialogue.”

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17 November 2023, 15:35