Vatican City, Nov 15, 2016 / 06:08 am
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said that Francis' decision to give a red hat to the longtime papal envoy to Syria is a sign of the Pope's closeness to the Church and people on the ground amid the country's dire situation.
"With this decision, the Pope wanted to express a great sign of closeness to Syria," Cardinal Parolin told CNA Nov. 13. The gesture goes beyond mere "diplomatic formulas," and is a sign of human and ecclesial closeness.
Pope Francis has already demonstrated his closeness, concern, and interest in Syria "in many, many ways," he said, adding that Archbishop Mario Zenari's elevation "is another manifestation of that interest."
On Oct. 9 Pope Francis announced that Archbishop Zenari and 16 other priests and bishops would be named cardinals Nov. 19, the eve of the close of the Jubilee of Mercy. He has served as the Pope's ambassador to Syria since 2008, and has seen the country continue to deteriorate as their 6-year long civil war continues to rage.