Card. Sandri in Syria to Express Pope’s Closeness

Catholic Communities Tested by Years of War

Sandri Syria
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri © Vatican Media

The Congregation for the Oriental Churches announced in a press release that its Prefect, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri starts today, October 25, a visit to Syria, which will end on November 3.

This trip, which initially was planned for April of last year and then postponed due to the pandemic, is taking place now, with the Holy Father’s blessing and the coordination of the Apostolic Nunciature of Damascus, for the purpose of expressing Pope Francis’ closeness and solidarity with Syria’s Catholic communities, tested by years of war and in need of a time of discernment and pastoral verification.


Cardinal Sandri’s arrival in Damascus is foreseen for this afternoon; his stay will include several stages and meetings. In the first place, a meeting with the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria and the Divine Liturgy, which will be co-presided over with the Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, His Beatitude Youssef Absi.

Then a meeting will be held with the priests of the Melkite circumscriptions of Damascus and Bosra-Hauran. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches will also visit the headquarters of Caritas-Syria, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Saint Paul Orphanage and the Medical Dispensary of Kachkoul, the Italian and French Hospitals and the Salesians, at the headquarters of the Syrian, Chaldean and Armenian Church. He will also meet with men religious of Damascus and of the South of Syria in the Saint Paul Memorial, and with some diplomats accredited in Syria.

Tartous, Homs, and Aleppo

The next stages will be Tartous and Homs, with the Syrian, Maronite and Melkite circumscriptions. In addition, he will preside over the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and visit the tomb of Jesuit Frans Van Der Lugt, and the Syro-Orthodox and Greek-Orthodox Cathedrals.

He will travel later to Aleppo, where he will preside over the Celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin Rite in the Vicariate. Planned as well is a meeting with men religious and directors of charitable Associations, another with priests of the city, as well as an ecumenical prayer followed by an inter-religious meeting.

After a brief prayer in each of the city’s Catholic Cathedrals (where the Maronite, Melkite, Syrian, Armenian, Chaldean and Latin Bishops will be present), he will leave for Yabroud and Maaloula, with brief stops before returning to Damascus and from there, return to Rome.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester