Russia TLIG Magazine

T L I G M A G A Z I N E I S S U E - 3 9 63 Archbishop Antoine Chahda The Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to start by thank- ing the organizers of this spe- cial meeting for inviting me to participate in this discussion on the following question: What is the bridge that brings us together, focusing on the richness of all religions and what brings peace to the world? Yes, it is of great importance to build bridges of hu- man communication between different cultures in order to build together the human civilization, at a time when many seek to demolish bridges and break the bonds of social cohesion, using for their cause all available means - religious and economic separation, intellectual means or weapons. So what peace are we talking about if the destructive war machine doesn’t stop, the intellectual one even before the military one? Historically: The Levant in general, and the city of Aleppo, in particular have known great demographic changes. From the beginning of Aleppo’s history until now, this was due to a succession of peoples bringing changes through wars, colonisation, economic developments or religion. Aleppo, which is considered the oldest city in the world, remains inhabited today. We were not immune to all these resulting changes because, from its foundation, it has known the passage of many peoples. Its name also changed several times until it settled on “Aleppo”, but in all that history, daily life continued in the city nonstop and it remains inhab- ited to this day. Socially: As an outcome of these changes, many of which are the result of wars and colonialism, many diverse groups of peoples settled and intermarried with the people of this city creating a diversity of cultures and languages. Aleppo has thus been enriched through the various traditions and customs that the new set- tlers brought with them. Politically: Aleppo remained resilient in the face of many colonizers and opened its gates only to those whom the city want- ed and through treaties that guaranteed its people’s stabil- ity and co-existence. Despite its unique geographical loca- tion, it remained an economic, cultural, commercial and reli- gious city with distinctive fea- tures rather than a city or capital of politics, princes or kings. Economically: Aleppo’s geographic location and its diversity of cul- tures have long made it a crossroads, a route and a sta- ble place for trade between East and West, with con- voys through it reaching India through the so-called “Silk Road”. This economic and commercial dimen- sion was distinct, thus encouraging many to choose Aleppo as a center for their commerce and trade to the east and to the west. With their trade, they car- ried their ideas, cultures and even their families. So the commercial traffic was a reason for the cultural and civil movement and even the religious one in Aleppo, where consuls, writers and missionaries live. Religiously: The city of Aleppo has been known since ancient times as a religious center with pagans, Christians, Jews and Muslims. Although located near the well-known city of Antioch, the city of Aleppo has its own position on the religious scene represented by saints, doctors of the Church and intellectuals from the different religions. The cultural diversity and the commercial exchange, as well as the religious ideas that the traders brought with them, were not a cause of confrontation and fighting, but of closeness and openness to the cul- ture and religion of others, with dialogue, understand- ing and acceptance. Today: With all the historical attributes that Aleppo has de- veloped on political, cultural, economic, religious and How to bridge our divisions and bring peace to the world