The Dicastery for the Eastern Churches has announced that the Prefect, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, will travel to Syria and Turkey from 17 February to 21 February to demonstate the Holy Father’s closeness to the people affected by the earthquake.
By Vatican News staff reporter
The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, will bring the Holy Father’s “closeness” to the people of Syria and Turkey in the wake of the recent disastrous earthquake.
Archbishop Gugerotti will be visiting the region from 17 – 21 February, during which time he will also meet with local Bishops as well as workers and volunteers associated with Caritas and other aid agencies committed to helping victims of the disaster.
Visiting Aleppo and Damascus
According to a press release issued by the Dicastery on Thursday, the prefect’s schedule was drawn up in coordination with the local Apostolic nunciatures. Archbishop Gugerotti is expected to visit relief centres for earthquake victims in Aleppo, and will also take part in the celebration of a Mass at the local Latin-rite parish in the city. A meeting with the city’s Catholic and Orthodox bishops, as well as some Muslim leaders, is also scheduled.
On the second day of his journey, Archbishop Gugerotti will be meeting with some of the charitable organizations working in the area, including Aid to the Church in Need, AVSI, CNEWA-PM, Catholic Relief Service, Caritas Syria, Jesuit Refugee Service, Associazione Pro Terra Sancta, L’Ouvre d’Orient, and the Blue Marists, as well as delegates of the Episcopal Commission for the service of charity in Syria, a body recently established in the country.
Later, he will visit a mosque that is also providing shelter for earthquake victims, before taking part in a Divine Liturgy in the Greek-Melkite cathedral. He will also have an opportunity to greet the community of the Sisters of Mother Teresa.
On Monday, 20 February, Archbishop Gugerotti will be in the Syrian capital of Damascus for a meeting with the Patriarchs and Bishops – both Catholic non-Catholic – who are resident in the capital. In the afternoon, the prefect will travel to Istanbul by way of Beirut.
The following day, he will meet with the Bishops of Turkey and the directors of the Caritas offices involved in assisting earthquake victims. Archbishop Gugerotti is expected to return to Rome on Tuesday evening.
A gesture of closen
“The gesture of closeness and proximity to the suffering people is combined with the desire to encourage all those who are working to deal with the emergency, and at the same time the need to establish a better coordination of initiatives and project preparation for all the works that will be needed in the months to come,” reads the press statement from the Dicastery. The statement goes on to note that “the Dicastery periodically brings together the most important humanitarian agencies in the Riunione delle Opere di Aiuto alle Chiese Orientali (ROACO) for the areas within its competence.”