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Pope Francis: to Diplomatic Corps, “give a voice” to “victims of wars”, in Syria and the Middle East

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

“To give a voice to those who have none”, particularly the “victims of other ongoing wars, especially that in Syria with its high death toll”. Pope Francis made this appeal in his address to the Diplomatic Corps, in which he again urged the “international community to promote a political solution to a conflict that will ultimately see only a series of defeats”. Indeed, according to Pope Francis, it is “vital” to “put an end to violations of humanitarian law, which cause untold suffering to the civil population, especially women and children, and strike at essential structures such as hospitals, schools and refugee camps, as well as religious edifices”. “Nor can we forget the many displaced persons resulting from the conflict; this has created great hardship for neighbouring countries”, the Pope remarked, expressing again his “gratitude to Jordan and Lebanon for receiving in a spirit of fraternity, and not without considerable sacrifice, great numbers of people. At the same time, I express my hope that the refugees will be able to return to their homelands in safe and dignified living conditions. My thoughts also go to the various European countries that have generously offered hospitality to those in difficulty and danger”. “Among those affected by the instability that for years has marked the Middle East are especially the Christian communities that have dwelt in those lands from apostolic times, and down the centuries have contributed to their growth and development”, the Pontiff pointed out: “It is extremely important that Christians have a place in the future of the region, and so I encourage all those who have sought refuge in other places to do everything possible to return to their homes and in any event to maintain and strengthen their ties to their communities of origin. At the same time, I express my hope that political authorities will not fail to ensure their security and all else needed for them to continue to dwell in the countries of which they are full citizens, and to contribute to their growth”.

“Sadly, in these years Syria and more generally the whole Middle East have become a battleground for many conflicting interests”, the Pontiff noted. “In addition to those of a chiefly political and military nature, we should not overlook attempts to foment hostility between Muslims and Christians” who, despite “quarrels and dissensions”, “have long lived together in peace” in different areas of the Middle East. “In the near future, I will have occasion to visit two predominantly Muslim countries, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates”, Pope Francis announced: “These represent two important opportunities to advance interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding between the followers of both religions, in this year that marks the eight-hundredth anniversary of the historic meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil”.

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