Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has become the latest Church leader to speak out against a proposed military intervention in Syria.
In a column in Austria’s Heute daily, Cardinal Schönborn said: “Taking up arms can only be a last resort.
“Were previous weapons programmes successful in this region, and did the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan bring peace? What good can bombs do in a country already bleeding from a thousand wounds?” he asked.
Meanwhile the US bishops’ conference reiterated comments by Pope Francis and King Abdullah II of Jordan that “the path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option” to end the conflict.
Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in a letter to the US Secretary of State that “the Syrian people urgently need a political solution”.
The letter called on the US to work with other governments to pursue negotiations and a ceasefire.
Meanwhile Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, president of the German bishops’ conference, referring to the chemical weapons apparently used by the Syrian regime, said: “These are weapons of mass destruction, whose use is outlawed by international law – if the crime by Damascus remains unanswered, then an important component of international law will come under pressure, with potentially devastating consequences for international security.”
He added that “the goal of military action must be defined, and it has to be asked whether a military strike might not lead to an unintended escalation of hostilities”.
The Catholic bishops’ conferences of England and Wales and France have not issued any comments on the projected intervention. Many of the bishops are on holiday.