Pope Francis called on the heads of sate meeting at today’s G-20 summit to seek a peaceful solution to the civil conflict in Syria.
“To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution,” said the Argentine-born Francis in a letter sent to the G-20 host, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Though the pontiff acknowledged that the G-20 summit is primarily concerned with economic issues, he urged the leaders of the twenty wealthiest countries to “reflect on the situation in the Model East and Syria.”
“Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development,” said Francis who also observed “all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders”.
The pontiff added his criticism of "one-sided interests" in Syria that are preventing a diplomatic end to the violent situation in that country and have contributed to the "senseless massacre" of innocent civilians.
Earlier this week, the Pope announced he would lead a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria on September 7th.
"With utmost firmness, I condemn the use of chemical weapons. I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart," the pope said last Sunday in possible reference to Syria.
The letter from the pope to Putin was published a day after the head of Francis' Jesuit order, the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, blasted the “abuse of power” by foreign states backing military intervention in Syria.
“I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure,” Nicolas said in an interview on Wednesday.
In the meantime one of Francis’ countrymen, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, sent his own letter to U.S. President Barack Obama regarding Syria. The missive from Pérez Esquivel to his fellow Nobel Peace laureate was harsher in tone than the letter from Francis:
“The situation in Syria is worrying and, once again, the U.S. as policeman of the world pretends to invade Syria in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’…
“It is nothing new that the U.S. imagines invading countries they accuse of having weapons of mass destruction, which wasn’t true in the case of Iraq…
“Yet you want to invade Syria without even knowing the results of the investigations being done by U.N. observers who are in the country with the Syrian government’s permission. Certainly the use of chemical weapons is immoral and to be condemned but your government does not have the moral authority to justify an invasion.”Both the U.S. and French governments are facing stiff opposition to their call for a possible military intervention in Syria. Chinese deputy finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, said earlier today that military strikes would have a “negative impact on the global economy” while Putin threatened to send a missile shield to Syria if the U.S. launches an attack without U.N. authorization.
Video Source– YouTube via Catholic News Service (“Pope Francis greets pilgrims from the Middle East and looks forward to a day of prayer and fasting for Syrian peace at his general audience, September 4.”)
Online Sources – news.va; The Guardian; La Nacion; Huffington Post