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USCCB leadership urges US not to attack Syria, deplores use of chemical weapons

Catholic World News - September 11, 2013

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement deploring the use of chemical weapons in Syria and urging the United States to press for a diplomatic solution to the civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and driven six million people from their homes.

“Chemical weapons have no place in the arsenals of the family of nations,” the committee said in a September 10 statement. “There is no doubt that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a heinous crime against humanity.”

The bishops continued:

Tragically, the deaths from chemical weapons are only part of the grievous story of Syria these days. More than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives. More than 2 million have fled the country as refugees. More than 4 million within Syria have been driven from their homes by violence. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Syria. We call upon our nation and the international community to save lives by pressing for serious dialogue to end the conflict, by refraining from fueling further violence with military attacks or arms transfers, and by offering more humanitarian assistance.

“We have heard the urgent calls of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and our suffering brother bishops of the venerable and ancient Christian Churches of the Middle East,” the bishops added as they recalled similar statements made before the Iraq War. “As one, they beg the international community not to resort to military intervention in Syria. They have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences.”

The bishops concluded:

Instead of employing armed force, our nation should work with the international community and direct all of its considerable diplomatic capabilities to initiate dialogue and negotiation. The use of force is always a last resort, and it should only be employed by legitimate authority in accordance with international norms. The lack of international and domestic consensus in this case is deeply troubling. Recent international proposals to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons deserve serious consideration, evaluation and encouragement.

We affirm the longstanding position of our Conference of Bishops that the Syrian people urgently need a political solution. We ask the United States to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.

As Congress struggles with the complex challenges and humanitarian catastrophe that have engulfed Syria, we offer the voice of the Universal Church and our prayers for peace.

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