Pope Francis has renewed his call for peace in Syria and vowed that the Church will not abandon the country’s people.
In an address to humanitarian groups dealing with the Syrian crisis on Wednesday, prior to his general audience, the Pope said: “In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace.”
He concluded: “May all of you here present tell the beloved people of Syria and the Middle East that the Pope accompanies them and is near to them. The Church will not abandon them!”
The Pope said that the destiny of the people of Syria was ‘close to his heart.’ He said: “The Church feels herself called to give her humble yet concrete and sincere witness to the charity which she has learned from Christ, the Good Samaritan. We know that where there is suffering, Christ is present. We cannot pull back, precisely from those situations where the suffering is greatest.
“Your presence at this coordinating meeting demonstrates your will to faithfully continue this precious work of humanitarian assistance, in Syria and in neighbouring countries which generously receive those who have fled from the war. May your timely and coordinated work be an expression of the communion to which it gives witness, as the recent Synod on the Church in the Middle East suggested.
“To the international community, besides the pursuit of a negotiated solution to the conflict, I ask for the provision of humanitarian aid for the displaced and refugees, and Syrians who have lost their homes, showing in the first place the good of each human person and guarding their dignity. For the Holy See the work of various Catholic charitable agencies is extremely significant: assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, is the most direct way to contribute to peace and to the upbuilding of a society open and welcoming to all of its different constituent parts. To this also the Holy See lends its efforts: to the building of a future of peace for a Syria in which everyone can live freely and express themselves in their own particular way.”
Pope Francis added: “My thoughts at this moment also go to the Christian communities who live in Syria and throughout the Middle East. The Church supports the members of these communities who today find themselves in special difficulty. These have the great task of continuing to offer a Christian presence in the place where they were born. And it is our task to ensure that this witness remain there. The participation of the entire Christian community to this important work of assistance and aid is imperative at this time.”