Pope begins Christmas celebrations in the shadow of war

Pope begins Christmas celebrations in the shadow of war

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In southern Turkey, much of which was devastated by the February earthquake, some faithful celebrated mass in front of the ruins of their church in Antakya.

“It’s important for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But this is a very sad Christmas,” said Wehbi Tadrasgil, 55, who lost his wife and two of his three children in the earthquake that killed at least 50,000 people. were killed. More than 5,000 in Türkiye and neighboring Syria.

“I hope their souls are here, I’m sure our prayers go out to them,” he said.

Twenty kilometers down the coast in Samandag, a generator lit a tree in front of the Saint-Elias church, which survived.

Father Yumurta said, “After the earthquake our community – 400 families – was destroyed. With this Christmas, we want to wish everyone rebirth, love, happiness and peace. We must move forward, rebuilding a new life should do.”

“They say that with the birth of the child Jesus, a new life begins, a new beginning. For us too, here, it will be a new beginning”, he said.

There was no sign of Christmas joy in Syrian cities, where main churches limited celebrations to prayers in solidarity with war-stricken Palestinians in Gaza.

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