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Pope's plea to G20 leaders: stop drive for military solution in Syria

Catholic World News - September 05, 2013

In an urgent appeal to the world’s most powerful leaders, Pope Francis has asked the heads of the G20 nations to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” to the conflict in Syria.

In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is hosting this week’s meeting of the G20 leaders in St. Petersburg, the Pope acknowledged that the group’s discussions will focus on economic issues. However, he wrote, “The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people.”

Regarding the world’s financial system, the Pope said that “the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth.” He then quickly turned attention to the bloodshed in Syria, observing that “armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony” which thwart that goal.

The Pope pleaded with the leaders of the world’s wealthy nations to be mindful of the suffering of innocent people in Syria and other war-torn countries. He said that while pushing for a negotiated peace in Syria, world leaders should also “do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country's borders."

While Pope Francis sent that urgent message to the G20 leaders, the Vatican’s top foreign-policy official was briefing the diplomatic corps about the Holy See’s stance on the conflict in Syria. Archbishop Dominique Mambertis said that the use of chermical weapons had caused “horror and concern” at the Vatican, and “the Holy See hopes that the competent institutions make clear what happened and that those responsible face justice.”

However, the archbishop said, the international response to the bloodshed in Syria should not be further military action. He called for a negotiated peace that would preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the country.

The Vatican had summoned all of the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to attend the September 5 briefing, underlining the importance that Pope Francis attaches to the quest for peace in Syria. Archbishop Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, also reminded the diplomats of the Pope’s call for a day of fasting and prayer on September 7, and the prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday evening.

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