A correspondent of The Near East gives reassuring news of the Roman Catholic missionaries in Syria in its issue for February 2,1917.
Some of the Jesuit Fathers who have been allowed to remain in the country are now the guests of the Maronite clergy. The few Jesuit Fathers of Syrian nationality, such as the well-known and erudite writer, Father Louis Cheikho, are living in the Maronite Convent of St. Antonius, but their state is said to be rather critical. The nuns of Syrian nationality belonging to French orders have been allowed to live in the well-known Convent of St. Charles, belonging to the Dames de Nazareth. The authorities have laid hands on the Jesuit College of Beirut, one part of which has been allotted to the Red Crescent Society, the other part having been turned into Government offices. The Church has not been interfered with The fine library, however, has not been so respected, all the rare books of value having been sent to Constantinople.
The Jesuits' printing press has met a worse fate, the machinery, type, paper, etc., the value of which is estimated at not less than half a million francs, having been confiscated. All the equipment and apparatus of the laboratories of the French College of Medicine and Pharmacy have also been confiscated and sent over to the Sultanish School of Medicine at Damascus.
As to the rich estates owned by the Jesuits in the Lebanon and the Bekaa, these have been taken over by the Government and a German agricultural engineer has been appointed to undertake the management thereof.
"The Apostolic Delegate and the Syriac Patriarch have not been molested, except that the latter was called up before the Court Martial at Aley to answer certain baseless charges brought against him.
The Syriac Bishop, however, together with thirty-five of the clergy, was condemmed to death, as the result of false charges laid against them. The Maronite Patriarch is still living in his winter residence, El Diman.
He, also, was twice called to the Seraglis at Beirut. The well-known Maronite Bishop of Beirut was condemned to death, but, on the intervention of the Apostolic Delegate, the death sentence was commuted to one of exile to Adana. The Greek Catholic Bishop of Acre was condemned to death; while the Bishops of Baalbek, Tripoli and Damascus, of the same community, were exiled to Adana.
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