Loading
By Catholic News Agency's Vatican Observer, Andrea Gagliarducci
Vatican to appeal for reconciliation at Syrian peace conference
Smoke billows skyward as buildings are shelled in Homs, June 9, 2012. Credit: UN Photo/David Manyua.
Smoke billows skyward as buildings are shelled in Homs, June 9, 2012. Credit: UN Photo/David Manyua.

.- Pope Francis' continual focus on the Syrian civil war will contribute to the Holy See playing a key role at the “Geneva II” international peace conference, due to start tomorrow, Jan. 22.

The Geneva II meeting aims at a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, providing for a transitional government in the country which has been mired in conflict since March, 2011. The conference will include representatives of both the Bashar al-Assad government and opposition groups, as well as foreign diplomats.

The Holy See's role in the Syrian peace process was acknowledged in the decision of Assad to send a high-level delegation to the Vatican Dec. 28 to deliver a personal message to Pope Francis. The delegation was composed of Joseph Sweid, minister of state, and Hussam Eddin Aala, ambassador to the Holy See.

The two met with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

According to Sana, the news agency of the Assad regime, the president appreciates Pope Francis' efforts for peace, and reiterated that the crisis can be solved through a dialogue among Syrians, without external intervention.

Geneva II will gather representatives of the Assad regime; leaders of the Syrian National Coalition, an exiled opposition group; and foreign diplomatic leaders from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, a close ally of the Assad regime, had been invited to participate. However, that invitation was rescinded after strong protests from the U.S. and the Syrian National Coalition following Iran's rejection of the call for a transitional government.

The Syrian National Coalition and the Assad regime seem to be at an impasse over Assad's role in any possible transitional government. A third of the coalition boycotted a vote last week over its involvement in the Geneva talks, and several other opposition groups have refused to participate.

At Geneva II, the Holy See will maintain its position, seeking dialogue and reconciliation among conflicting parties; preservation of the integrity and unity of Syria; and respect for minorities in the region.

The Holy See will also urge the world leaders to stop the flow of arms into Syria, and press for an immediate and complete cease-fire without political pre-conditions.

In the run-up to Geneva II, the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences held a closed-door workshop on Syria Jan. 13.

The event was led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a skilled diplomat, having served as Vatican Secretary for Relations with States from 1990 until 2003.

The workshop's participants delivered a written statement underscoring that “political transformation is needed” but “it is not a precondition for ending violence; rather it will accompany the cessation of violence and the rebuilding of trust.”

It was then stated that “once greater trust and cooperation are built … new political forms in Syria are needed to ensure representation, participation, reform, and the voice and security of all social groups.”

The workshop followed a series of diplomatic initiatives of the Holy See. Archbishop Mamberti met with the ambassadors to the Holy See Sept. 5 to express the Vatican's concerns regarding Syria, underscoring that it has “always been sensitive to the help request coming from the Syrian population”, and reminding them of Benedict XVI's heartfelt appeals to them and in his Urbi et Orbi addresses.

Benedict XVI had also wished to send a delegation to Syria during the most recent bishops' synod, but was prevented by the violence, though Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, was able to visit the war-torn nation.

Pope Francis has followed Benedict XVI’s path, mentioning the Syrian civil war in his Easter Urbi et Orbi message, and at several occasions following.

He called for a day of fasting and prayer on Sept. 5, leading a prayer vigil at St. Peter's Square, and wrote to the G20 nations, reminding them they “cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long.”

And in his Jan. 13 message to the ambassadors to the Holy See, Pope Francis focused on fraternity as the foundation and path to peace, saying that “what is presently needed is a renewed political will to end the conflict.”

“I also encourage all parties to promote and ensure in every way possible the provision of urgently-needed aid to much of the population, without overlooking the praiseworthy effort of those countries – especially Lebanon and Jordan – which have generously welcomed to their territory numerous refugees from Syria.”

Syria has also been among the priorities of Archbishop Parolin: he has already prepared a dossier on the situation, and it was “first of all” among the topics he discussed with his American counterpart, John Kerry, at their Jan. 14 meeting.

The Syrian conflict has now dragged on for 32 months, since demonstrations sprang up nationwide on March 15, 2011 protesting the rule of President Assad. In April of that year, the Syrian army began to deploy to put down the uprisings, firing on protesters.

Since then, the violence has morphed into a civil war which has claimed the lives of at least 100,000 persons, and as many as 130,000. The war is being fought among the Assad regime and numerous rebel groups, including moderates, Islamists, and Kurds.

Some 40 percent of Syria's population have fled their homes because of the civil war. There are 2.3 million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, most of them in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, and an additional 6.5 million Syrians are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.

Tags: Syrian Civil War, Geneva II, Vatican diplomacy


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

RESOURCES »

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

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
18

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Gospel
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Homily
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: