U.S.C.C.B. Echoes Pope’s Plea for Peace in Syria

WASHINGTON (CNS) — While standing in solidarity with the church and people of Syria, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee echoed the plea of Pope Francis that the international community immediately take steps to bring peace to the war-torn country.

Meeting in Washington on 10 September, committee members said in a statement that a political solution, rather than a military response, was needed to resolve Syria’s 30-month civil war.

“We have heard the urgent calls of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and our suffering brother bishops of the venerable ancient Christian churches of the Middle East. As one, they beg the international community not to resort to military intervention in Syria. They have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation and will have unintended negative consequences,” the statement said.

The appeal was in line with recent letters from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, USCCB president, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, to President Barack Obama and each member of Congress.

“We ask the United States to work with other governments to obtain a cease-fire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities,” the statement said.

Committee members also decried the use of chemical weapons in the conflict and said that the use of such weapons in Syria “was a heinous crime against humanity.”

The statement came as Obama continued to urge Congress to authorize military strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who the administration believes used chemical weapons on civilians in a series of incidents on 21 August near Damascus, resulting in as many as 1,400 deaths.

Neither the House nor the Senate has set a date for a vote on the resolution authorizing military strikes on Syria.

The committee said the world must act to end the war, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives overall, forced more than 2 million to flee Syria and displaced another 4 million people within the country.

“A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Syria,” the statement said. “We call upon our nation and the international community to save lives by pressing for serious dialogue to end the conflict, by refraining from fueling further violence with military acts or arms transfers and by offering more humanitarian assistance.”

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Editor’s Note: The full text of the statement is available on the U.S.C.C.B. site.

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