Vatican Urges ‘Real Reforms’ in Syria

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Vatican official deplored the growing violence in Syria, and called on political leaders there to enact “real reforms.”

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi made the remarks Dec. 2 to a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, which was discussing the Syrian crackdown on regime opponents that has left an estimated 4,000 people dead in recent months.

Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to U.N. and other agencies in Geneva, said the Vatican was following “with great concern the dramatic and growing episodes of violence in Syria, which have caused many victims and grave suffering.”

He said the anti-government protests that began in Syria last spring arose from legitimate aspirations for “better future of economic well-being, justice, freedom and participation in public life.”

“They point to the urgent necessity of real reforms in social, economic and political life,” he added.

Archbishop Tomasi said it was important that such changes take place without intolerance, discrimination or conflict, but instead through respect for truth and for the “legitimate rights of individuals and groups.”

“Such principles must guide leaders while taking account of the aspirations of civil society as well as the instances of the international community,” he said.

The Vatican representative also expressed the church’s condolences to the families of the victims and its prayers for the recovery of the wounded.

“May peace soon prevail and allow a renewed society to look with hope to a future where the innate dignity of every person is respected,” he said.

The Arab League has threatened new sanctions against Syria unless it allows international observers into the country. The government of President Bashar al-Assad has so far refused to comply.

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