Pope cancels delegation to Syria, focuses on aid work
Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum on April 13, 2012. Credit: Alan Holdren-CNA.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum on April 13, 2012. Credit: Alan Holdren-CNA.
By Matthew A. Rarey
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- A delegation of bishops from the recent synod on the New Evangelization will not go to Syria as violence continues to ravage the country, Pope Benedict XVI announced Nov. 7.

“As a sign of my own solidarity and that of the whole Church for the Syrian people, as well as our spiritual closeness to the Christian communities in that country, I had hoped to send” a delegation, the Pope said.

The delegation would have consisted of seven prelates, including New York’s Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

The cancelation was due to an unspecified “variety of circumstances and developments,” explained the Pope, who lamented “the tragic situation of violence in Syria.”

He said he is continuously praying for those in Syria and appealed to all the parties in the conflict to work for the good of Syria and find a political solution because “one day it may be too late.”

In lieu of the delegation, Pope Benedict has sent Cardinal Robert Sarah as his emissary to Lebanon. Cardinal Sarah is in charge of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” for Promoting Human and Christian Development, which provides humanitarian relief in the Pope’s name.

Cardinal Sarah will be in Lebanon Nov. 7-10, where he will deliver $1 million in aid from the Pope for victims of the violence. His mission includes meeting with leaders of the different Churches present in Syria, as well chairing a meeting of Catholic charitable agencies in order to coordinate their efforts to aid Syrians.

Michael LaCivita, the communications director for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association,  told CNA Nov. 7 that the “idea of coordinating efforts is a very good idea because there’s strength in doing that as opposed to having competing efforts.”

The association is an agency of the Holy See that is running relief efforts on the ground in Syria. It is working directly with the different Churches in that multi-confessional country, the Catholic Latin and Melkite Rites as well as the Syrian Orthodox.

“It’s local Churches that help us determine what needs are, and so we work to empower them to do so,” LaCivita said.

He welcomes the Pope’s decision to focus on coordinating relief efforts from outside Syria rather than sending a high-profile delegation into the embattled country to spread good will and gifts.

“Our concern was that the trip could be easily manipulated by either side, and we don’t want the Church, the Holy See in particular, being compromised, though they had the very best intentions,” LaCivita remarked.

If they were staying in Damascus, they would run the risk of being manipulated by the government of Bashar al-Asad, he said. And if they were going outside Damascus to rebel-controlled regions, “who would they be meeting with and could their security even be guaranteed?”

One member of the would-be delegation would have stuck out like a big red thumb for any would-be terrorist: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the board of the welfare association.

“He would have been a significant target,” LaCivita said of the Archbishop of New York.

An estimated 30,000 people have died in Syria’s 18-month-old uprising. A variety of rebel groups, including radical Muslims allied with al Qaeda, are trying to topple the secular government of President Bashar al-Asad, which has been historically protective of the country’s Christian minority.

Tags: Pope Benedict, Arab Spring, Church in Middle East, Syria Conflict

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20