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Catholic prelate: outside influences are escalating Syrian conflict

Catholic World News - July 17, 2012

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham has issued “an urgent appeal for dialogue, reconciliation, peace” in Syria, begging for an end to a widening civil war and charging that outside forces are contributing to the escalation of violence.

The call for peace is “one of the rarest languages that many people do not want to hear,” the Melkite Patriarch said. But he added: “We Christians, to whom the Gospel of peace has been entrusted, feel called to promote it.”

Patriarch Gregory told the Fides news agency that Syria is threatened by “anarchy, insecurity, and the influx of weapons.” He blamed outside forces for aggravating the violence.

“There is no persecution, and Christians are not targeted as such, but are among the victims of chaos and lack of security,” the Catholic prelate said. He charged that propaganda about persecution has contributed to the rush toward civil war.

The Melkite Patriarch said that Catholics in Syria have worked steadily for reform without violence—that they have “raised their voices, demanding reforms, freedom, democracy, fight corruption, support for development, freedom of the world."

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