Reality of Syrian war, wounded hits home for reporter

A government shutdown. Another papal interview. The battle for religious liberty. The battle for traditional marriage. It’s a nonstop world out there. And this, of course, doesn’t include the series finale of “Breaking Bad” that ensured September ended with a bang for TV enthusiasts.

As we’re now halfway through the Month of the Rosary and Respect Life Month, you’ll see special attention given to both. Matthew Bunson takes a close look at Pope Francis’ devotion to the Blessed Mother (Page 8), which has been a cornerstone of his papacy from the morning after his election when he visited St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.

And our In Focus takes a close-up look at women — often called Gabriel Angels — who assist other women during unexpected pregnancies. A beautiful interview on Page 12 particularly underscores this important ministry and how powerful this relationship can be on both sides.

Editor's preview of this week's issue

Another respect life issue continues halfway across the globe as the civil war in Syria continues to rage. As of the end of September, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights listed the number of dead from the conflict at 115,206.

Crossing the border from Syria into Israel are many wounded, reports Judith Sudilovsky, who recently visited Western Galilee Hospital in the coastal town of Nahariya (Page 5). There, Dr. Masad Barhoum, a Catholic Arab Israeli, is treating the casualties of the Syrian war — both civilians and fighters — with no questions asked.

The visit, in which Sudilovsky encountered many wounded, stuck with her. In a reflection (you can find a complete account on, she wrote:

“Having come to interview the Catholic general director of the hospital ... I thought this would be a positive story, happy to be able in this place of conflict to also write about the humanity of people whose leaders may be sworn enemies but who can still come to the aid of others in moments of great need. ... But once seeing, meeting and speaking with these seriously injured men, young men with their limbs missing and paralyzed, their faces and skulls shot and smashed, the reality of the continuing brutality of the Syrian war was brought right to my front door. The wounded keep coming.

“Though there had been no bombing or shooting around me when I was interviewing, there right in front of me were the wounded from this incredibly tragic war — the very immediate human result of the violence. They were not statistics in a news article or TV news cast. They were people with mothers, wives and children.”

Sudilovsky, through her courageous reporting, reminds us that we are all children of God, made in his image.

Finally, Pope Francis is keeping us hopping, as always, with more interviews and much Vatican activity. See our editorial (Page 19) for the latest.