Magazine article The Christian Century

Jean-Clement Jeanbart

Magazine article The Christian Century

Jean-Clement Jeanbart

Article excerpt


During a recent tour of the United States, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, described the fighting that erupted Easter weekend, targeting the Christian quarter of the city and killing and injuring dozens. Three churches and several apartment buildings were destroyed and rockets hit Jeanbart's offices, which sit less than 200 yards from the Old City, where the rebels are based. The archbishop spent the next week looking for some place to bury the bodies of a family of four, since the Catholic cemetery was a battle zone.

"I was without any words to say to my people," the Catholic prelate said.

It was a low point amid the strife that has devastated Syria since 2011. "A country of blood and fire," he calls it.

Jeanbart, 72, heads the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Aleppo, an Eastern Catholic rite that is in full communion with Rome. The Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need organized his tour, which ended May 1.

A few decades ago, Aleppo was home to about 170,000 Catholics, about a third of the city's population. Since the war broke out, Jeanbart has seen a third of his flock reduced by death, dislocation, and emigration. …

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