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Vatican stand on Syria explained at briefing for diplomats

Catholic World News - September 06, 2013

At a September 5 briefing for diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti explained the Vatican’s stand regarding the civil war in Syria and the threat of US military intervention.

Archbishop Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, reminded the assembled ambassadors that Pope Francis has repeatedly called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, which has already resulted in the death of over 100,000 civilians and driven 2 million people into exile. “Faced with facts of this type, one cannot remain silent,” he said.

Ending the violence is an “absolute priority,” the archbishop said. He challenged the parties involved in the Syrian conflict to show the courage to enter negotiations, and he urged international leaders to redouble diplomatic efforts to promote peace talks.

Archbishop Mamberti went on to say that the protection of human rights should be a major concern. He spoke of “the urgent need for humanitarian assistance for the majority of the population,” and praised the neighboring countries that have accepted hundreds of Syrian thousands of refugees. Church agencies have done their utmost to provide assistance to those who have been left homeless, he said, and will continue to do so.

The Vatican top foreign-policy official said that a negotiated solution to the Syrian civil war should fulfil three requirements: preserving the nation’s unity, avoiding the formation of factions, and protecting Syria’s territorial integrity. He called for guarantees to protect the country’s minorities, especially Christians.

Drawing attention to the recruitment of Islamic militants by the Syrian rebel forces, Archbishop Mamberti said that the Vatican is alarmed by “the growing presence of extremist groups in Syria, often originating from other countries.”

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