12/11/2020, 12.09
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Pope: every effort for peace in Syria and Iraq a building block for a better society

Video message from Francis to the meeting of over 50 Catholic agencies. The humanitarian emergency, the drama of refugees, the flight of Christians from their places of origin are some of the problems that exist in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The humanitarian emergency, the drama of refugees, the flight of Christians from their places of origin are some of the problems existing in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries that emerged in the fourth meeting of over 50 Catholic agencies, promoted by the Dicastery for Integral human development, which took place yesterday afternoon via streaming.

In a video message Pope Francis underlined how “my thoughts go above all to the people who had to leave their homes to escape the horrors of war, in search of better living conditions for themselves and for their loved ones. In particular, I remember the Christians forced to abandon the places where they were born and grew up, where their faith developed and enriched. We must ensure - he added - that the Christian presence in these lands continues to be what it has always been: a sign of peace, progress, development and reconciliation between individuals and peoples”.

“Secondly - the Pope said - my thoughts go to the refugees who want to return to their country. I appeal to the international community to make every effort to encourage this return, guaranteeing the conditions of security and economic conditions necessary for this to happen. Every gesture, every effort in this direction is precious”. And "every effort - small or large - made to foster the peace process is like laying a brick in the building of a just society, one that is open to welcome, and where everyone can find a place to dwell in peace".

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, unable to participate personally, in a speech read by Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, urged for a focus of attention on Syria, which has been devastated by the conflict for almost ten years.

"Today more than ever - he argued - we must not turn our attention away from the needs of the population, we must renew our charitable commitment as a Church alongside the most fragile and needy, also by promoting innovative actions, without forgetting the training of our operators, both professionally and spiritually".

But Lebanon is also, "hit by the collapse of the financial system, the socio-economic crisis and the explosion of the port of Beirut", where "a strong commitment not only for reconstruction but for the support of Catholic schools and hospitals, two cornerstones of the Christian presence in the country and throughout the region, is urgently needed.”.

For his part, Msgr. Gallagher hoped that the recent "Abraham Accords" could help reduce the "tensions and conflicts" that cross the Region. "Every time dioceses, parishes, associations, volunteers or individuals work to support those who are abandoned or in need - he concluded - the Gospel acquires a new force of attraction".

In this context, Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria, offered, once more, his personal testimony on the human and material consequences of the crisis in the country, a drama that, according to United Nations sources, still sees 11 million people in need of assistance.


The situation of the Christian communities residing in the countries affected by the war was at the centre of the intervention of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who expressed the hope that everything possible be done to avoid a "monochrome Middle East that its rich human and historical reality nothing”. In this vast region there are Christians who wish to "return to their land" to "build their dreams again", even managing to seize the possible opportunities of the current crisis.

Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Integral human development, underlined how "it is necessary to give people a sign of concrete hope, to allow them to return to their respective countries and be able to live in safety".

The secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John, for his part, described the material help that the organization offers "to support, accompany and defend" the "innocent victims" of conflicts, especially a "huge number of Christian minorities. who are the most vulnerable ".

Three proposals were put forward by Caritas Internationalis: the immediate lifting of sanctions, to alleviate the suffering of the local population and allow humanitarian organizations to respond to the urgent needs related to approaching winter and the Covid-19 pandemic; an increase in financial resources to be allocated to aid programs to rebuild the social fabric and respond to the needs of local communities; increased support for civil society organizations programs aimed at providing humanitarian aid and promoting rehabilitation and development.

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