Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican City's secretary for relations with states, told a group of ambassadors that stakeholders in the Syrian civil war should distance themselves from extremism.

Vatican City is concerned with "the growing presence in Syria of extremist groups, often coming from other countries," he said Sept. 5 during a meeting with 71 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.

"Emphasis should be placed on exhorting the population, and also opposition groups, to distance themselves from such extremists, to isolate themselves from such extremists, to isolate them and to oppose terrorism openly and clearly."

Archbishop Mamberti stressed that the Vatican has long been attentive to the Syrian civil war, saying that "since the beginning of the conflict, the Holy See has been sensitive to the cry for help that came from the Syrian people, especially by Christians."

"The violence that continues to sow death and destruction is likely to involve not only other countries in the region, but also to have unpredictable consequences in various parts of the world," he lamented.

He told the ambassadors that the Vatican had not failed "immediately to express clearly its position characterized, as in other cases, by the consideration of the centrality of the human person regardless of his ethnicity or religion, and the pursuit of the common good of society."

Archbishop Mamberti noted Pope Francis' desire to promote Sept. 7 as a world-wide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria.

"The heartfelt plea of the Pope interprets the desire for peace that comes from every corner of the earth, from the heart of every man of good will."

"In the concrete historical situation marked by violence and wars in many places, the voice of the Pope stands at a particularly grave … Syrian conflict, which has already seen too much suffering, devastation and pain," he added.

The archbishop underscored that Pope Francis' firmness shows "there is a judgment of God, and also a judgment of history on our actions to which one can not escape."

Archbishop Mamberti appealed to the parties involved in the conflict to "not to be closed in on their own interests but to take with courage and with determination on the path of meeting and negotiation."

He also appealed to the international community "to make every effort to promote, without further delay, clear initiatives for peace in that nation, always based on dialogue and negotiation."

The Syrian civil war, now in its 29th month, began with demonstrations in March, 2011 protesting the rule of Bashar al-Assad. In April of that year, the Syrian army began to deploy to put down the uprisings, firing on protesters. Since then more than 100,000 people have died in the war.

Refugees from Syria number 2 million, and another 4.25 million are internally displaced.

The war is being fought among the Assad regime; rebels, who include both secularists and Islamists; and Kurds.