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Melkite patriarch pleads for peace in Syria, asks Pope to launch diplomatic initiative

Catholic World News - February 26, 2013

Following explosions in Damascus that killed 53 and injured 235, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has urged the international community to stop sending arms to Syria.

“We make a heartfelt appeal to the conscience of everyone worldwide, to heads of State, especially of Arab countries, leaders of institutions and international assemblies, peace activists, His Holiness the Pope and Christian bishops everywhere, imploring them to hear our cry and the sufferings and pain of the Syrian people,” said Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch on February 21. “No one has the right to make excuses and deny responsibility for the massacre, destruction, explosions, riots, nor for the current crisis, hatred, rancor and enmity between the children of the same homeland.”

“We renew our appeal to the whole world to end the influx of weapons to Syria,” he added. “We ask the international community and the world’s more powerful countries to support Syria in its efforts to implement the way of dialogue and reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis … We extend our appeal to Russia and the United States of America to continue their sincere efforts to support progress towards dialogue and a comprehensive political solution. The patience of Syrians is exhausted: their suffering is exacerbated in every detail of their daily life.”

“We ask His Holiness the Pope and leaders of the Holy Apostolic See of Rome to launch a diplomatic initiative of the Catholic Church based on its global spiritual influence,” he continued.

Patriarch Gregory, 79, has led the Melkite Greek Catholic Church since 2000. The Eastern Catholic church, which is in full communion with the Holy See, has 1.35 million members.

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