Your Graces the archpastors, all-honourable fathers, dear brothers and sisters!
Syria has been suffering from ongoing hostilities for nearly two years. Tens of thousands of people have died, many of them were civilians – old people, women and children.
Our brothers in faith constitute a considerable part of the Syrian people: the centre of an oldest Orthodox Patriarchate, Patriarchate of Antioch, is located in the city of Damascus. At present human blood is being shed in the streets of this city which remembers St Paul and heroic deeds and labours of ancient saints. Orthodox Christians and Muslims used to live side by side in peace in this Biblical land where the shrines are being desecrated, churches are being profaned, and Christians are being driven out of their houses, persecuted and often tortured and killed.
Houses are ruined, infrastructure is destroyed, people lack for food and medicaments; and many are homeless. Some people have gone to their relatives, others have found shelter at special centres, still others had to flee to neighbouring countries with nobody to welcome them there.
Our people endured similar hardships not long ago. Thousands of our compatriots, many bishops, priests, monks and laypeople among them, were killed in the years of revolution, civil war and persecutions against the Church. We venerate the exploit of the Russian new martyrs and confessors, and we must not be indifferent when we see innocent blood being shed.
We cannot stop this war, but we can pray zealously for its soonest cessation and help the suffering people, including our Christian brothers.
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) who we should regard as our neighbor: the one who needs help, even if he or she has another views, confesses another faith or lives in another place. Such was the man, who had suffered at the hands of robbers, for the Good Samaritan.
I ask you to respond to Christ’s appeal and help our neighbours, who are now in particular need of support and sympathy.
For this purpose, I give my blessing to organize a fund-raising on the next Sunday in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church to help the needy in Syria. Money should be transferred to accounts of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service which is charged to coordinate this good initiative. The money collected will be transferred to the Patriarchate of Antioch.
I am praying for the end of bloodshed and for peace in the land of Syria. I hope that our offerings will be pleasing to God.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
June 25, 2013