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War in Syria: the commitment for peace of the Italian Church

Crafting peace – echoing once again Pope Francis’ words – is a skilled work: it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. More than before, this is the time to believe it wholeheartedly, envisioning initiatives for encounter and exchange, in the belief that every time we open our hearts beyond the boundaries of our homes we return enriched, to address the problems that afflict our people with renewed strength

It’s a known story. It the story of a man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, wounded him, and left him half dead on the side of the road without a care. Today that man has a face: it’s the face of millions of Syrians forcefully displaced around bordering countries or inside Syria; it’s the face of those left without water, without food, and without access to basic medical treatment; it’s the face of 27 thousand children killed for no reason, and of all those stripped of the love of their families, of the warmth of a classroom, of the very possibility of living their childhood.

This scene from the Gospel stands powerfully before me, as I try to come to grips with the tragedy that unfolds at the expense of a civil population worn out by eight years of war.

We saw Daesh’s black flag being lowered, but the massacre of the innocents is never-ending.

It continues with the use of chemical weapons. It continues with the direct involvement of the “great powers”, which, as Pope Francis said on April 15, “despite the tools available to the international community”, find it hard “to agree on a common action in favour of peace.” I call to mind the prophetic words of Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Damascus, who last month described a situation whereby the most powerful armies in the world are deployed on the ground almost crossing mutual red lines while Syrian, Russian, Israeli, and the 60-nation US-led coalition take to the skies. Cardinal Zenari attested to the perilous, courageous commitment

of numerous good Samaritans – Churches, humanitarian organizations, NGOs –determined to reach out through the multifaceted forms of solidarity-based compassion,

that must be combined, according to the Holy Father’s appeal, with our constant prayers for justice and peace. At the same time, before this worrying scenario, I feel the urgent need to involve the Italian Church in an initiative of reflection and spirituality for peace in the Mediterranean. Clearly, it is not a question of organizing an occasional event, bound to remain an end in itself. In fact, we are all called to do our share to defend the precious, fragile value of peace and to protect human dignity worldwide.

Crafting peace – echoing once again Pope Francis’ words – is a skilled work: it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. More than before, this is the time to believe it wholeheartedly, envisioning initiatives for encounter and exchange, in the belief that every time we open our hearts beyond the boundaries of our homes we return enriched, to address the problems that afflict our people with renewed strength.

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