New York City (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Catholic bishops of the United States are opposed to any military action against Syria and called on President Barack Obama to engage instead in the search for a cease -fire and an end to the civil war.
In a letter to Obama , the Episcopal Conference recalls that Francis Pope and the Middle East bishops urgently asked the international community to avoid any military intervention , which would have " unintended negative consequences" , and would "exacerbate an already deadly situation".
The letter, signed by Card. Timothy Dolan , president of the episcopal conference and by Msgr. Richard Pates , president of the Justice and Peace Commission , condemned the use of chemical weapons , but insists on the judgment of Pope Francis, according to which " God and history " will judge those who use them .
The bishops also appealed to all Catholics in the United States to contact U.S. lawmakers pressing on them to vote against military intervention. The vote is scheduled from September 9 on. The appeal also asks the faithful to push political representatives so that " U.S. leadership , in collaboration with the international community " can work for "an immediate ceasefire in Syria and serious, inclusive negotiations for peace".
Bishops revealed that on August 29 Msgr. Pates sent a letter to John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State , which expresses the Church's position : " [T]he path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict and to the violence that every day causes the loss of so many human lives....' We ask the United States to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance, and encourage building an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities."
Meanwhile , just yesterday , John Kerry, discussing with U.S. lawmakers , made the point on allies who support armed intervention against Syria , guilty, in their eyes, of using chemical weapons on 21 August. Out of 100 countries contacted, 57 are convinced that chemical weapons have been used; 34 would support some military action against Syria , "some" would agree to join in the military intervention . He added that "Arab countries have offered " to pay all the expenses of the military operation and that such offer " is quite significant".
Yesterday, a group of prominent international politicians, "The Elders" , headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has spoken out against any military action in Syria. The group, founded by Nelson Mandela, collects personalities like Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu , former U.S. President Jimmy Carter , former Irish President Mary Robinson. In a public statement they claim that "There is no military solution to this conflict .. Therefore, every effort must be made to stop further bloodshed and reinvigorate the political process to end the conflict that has devastated and brutalized Syria. "
The group condemns the use of chemical weapons as " inhumane and criminal" and demands that " the perpetrators be convicted in an individual and collective ." But it stresses the world's leaders should wait for the U.N. chemical weapons inspectors' report and "deliberations of the U.N. Security Council" before taking any action.