Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In a new, poignant plea about Syria, Benedict XVI called for an end to the "bloodshed and violence, that only bring pain and death, may cease and give way to reconciliation, harmony and peace. Every effort should be made, including by the international community, to bring Syria out of the present situation of violence and crisis, which has already lasted a long time and risks becoming a wider conflict that would have highly negative consequences for the country and the whole region. I also issue an urgent and heartfelt appeal, in view of the extreme need of the population, that the necessary humanitarian assistance be guaranteed, and extended to the many persons who have been forced to leave their homes, some of them becoming refugees in neighbouring countries. The precious gift of human life must always be defended."
The pope, who spoke at today's meeting of the 'Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches' (ROACO), said "that the Holy Land and the other Eastern regions" should "receive material and spiritual support, in an ordered and just way, so as to meet the demands of their ordinary ecclesial life and other special needs."
In his address to ROACO, the pontiff noted, "The present economic and social situation, all the more sensitive on account of its global dimensions, continues to create problems in economically developed areas of the world, and, more seriously, spills over into less affluent regions, seriously compromising their present and their future. The East, the motherland of ancient Christian traditions, is especially affected by this process, which engenders uncertainty and instability that also has an impact on the Church and in the ecumenical and interreligious fields. These factors tend to reopen the endemic wounds of history and they have a damaging effect on dialogue and peaceful cohabitation among peoples. They also weaken authentic respect for human rights, especially the right to personal and community religious freedom. This right should be guaranteed in its public profession, not only in terms of worship, but also in relation to the pastoral, educational, charitable and social activities that are indispensable for its effective exercise."
Finally, Benedict XVI reiterated his "closeness to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Syria, especially innocent children and the defenceless. May our prayer, our commitment and our active brotherhood in Christ, as an oil of consolation, help them not to lose sight of the light of hope in this moment of darkness".
May Mary, Mother of God "watch over the coming journey which, God willing, I will make to Lebanon for the solemn closing of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops."