Syria - Aleppo

The Syria that dialogues.

Most Rev. Giuseppe Nazzaro, Titular Bishop of Forma and Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, responds to Maria Chiara Albanese's questions

It is a long way from Avellino to Aleppo. Bishop Nazzaro, is it a path or a change?
I was thirteen years old. It was October 10, 1950 when we left from Atripalda (Ed. Note: in the province of Avellino) for Rome packed into an old Fiat. When we arrived near Rome, in front of an institute, the parish rector said to the driver: “Stop”.  A friar came out of the door and my father said: “They are Franciscans”.
So I headed towards that door which would later open the way for me to the Holy Land, the Middle East and Syria. On September 11, 1955, with three other companions, I embarked from Brindisi headed for Beirut and from there to Jerusalem.

You are a reference personality not only for the faithful Christians in the city.  This is an exceptional thing in a world pervaded by religious conflicts... how is inter-religious dialogue set up?
Well, wherever I have been in the Middle East I have always respected the country that hosted me and its Institutions.  Inter-religious dialogue is set up first of all by knowing who we are, what we believe and how we act on the basis of our creed.

And what can you tell us about devotion to Rita, the saint of dialogue?
In almost all of the churches, of all the rites, there is a statue of her. Many pray to Saint Rita of the impossible cases. And above all she is invoked by students. Her feast day, May 22nd, is felt very strongly and the people want to bring home the rose blessed in her honor for the occasion.
Together with Saints Anthony of Padua and Theresa of Lisieux, Rita is the Western Saint most venerated here in the East.

Aleppo is an oasis of peace in Syria, far from the clashes that have inflamed the country in the past months.  What do you think is the success of this change in the city compared to the rest of Syria?
Aleppo is a city of merchants. The people have no interest in losing what they have acquired with the sweat of their brow and daily sacrifice. I think that a second reason may be that Aleppo is not a frontier city and so arms cannot arrive easily among the people. It is too far to be subject to the blackmail of people interested in destabilizing the country.


Testimony also published in No. 1-2012 of From the Bees to the Roses.