By Bishop Kevin J. Farrell
Amid the myriad voices addressing the Syrian crisis, one that has been drowned out by the din is that of the Holy Father. He wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, president of the G20 countries presently meeting in Russia.
Pope Francis wrote: “The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the 20 most powerful economies, with two-thirds of the world’s population and 90 percent of global GDP, does not have international security as its principal purpose. Nevertheless, the meeting will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria.”
Noting that, “It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.” The Pope went on to address, “the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution.”
Adding, “Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.”
Addressing the problem of thousands of refugees who have fled Syria, the Holy Father reminded the international leaders that, “All governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.”
In his message Pope Francis reminds us all that the question should not be “what is the proper military response” but “what is the humanitarian and pacifist response” that will address the continued suffering of the Syrian people and begin the search for peace.
The Holy Father has called on Catholics around the world to join him Saturday, September 7, to fast and pray for peace in Syria. Several of our parishes in the Diocese of Dallas will pray together as church communities on Saturday. I hope you will call your parish to see what is planned. You can also visit www.cathdal.org for prayers, readings and other resources. The important thing is that we all lift our voices to God and pray for peace.