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Pope calls for 'real reforms,' open negotiations to resolve crisis in Syria

Catholic World News - June 09, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has called for “real reforms” to resolve the political crisis in Syria, urging negotiations that would take “a deliberately comprehensive approach” and include all the “legitimate interests and aspirations” of all parties.

In a June 9 meeting with a new ambassador from Syria to the Holy See, the Holy Father voiced his concerns about recent developments in that country, where the government has moved to crush demonstrations. Although he stopped short of endorsing those demonstrations, the Pope said that they reflected a “desire for a better future in the areas of political, economic, and social life.” In that context, the Pope’s call for “real reform” and his call for open negotiations implied a serious criticism of the current Syrian regime.

Pope Benedict was open about his desire to see significant change in Syria. However, he said, “it is greatly desirable that this evolution not take place in a climate of intolerance, discrimination, or conflict and, still less, of violence.” Thus he called for negotiations to set a future path for the country. The Pope also reflected on the implications of the current unrest for the Christian religious minority. "Syria has traditionally been an example of tolerance, concord, and harmonious relations between Christians and Muslims and today the ecumenical and interreligious relations are good,” the Pontiff said. He expressed the hope that this tolerance would continue.

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