Pope Francis is urging governments to find a political solution to the war in Syria.

In a video message released on Tuesday, July 5, in support of a new Caritas Internationalis campaign, “Syria: Peace is Possible”, the Pope reiterates his belief that “there is no military solution for Syria, only a political one”.

“The international community must therefore support peace talks towards the building of a national unity government” he says.

And, Pope Francis continues: “I invite you to ask those who are involved in peace talks to take these agreements seriously and to commit to facilitating access to humanitarian aid.”

“While the people suffer, an incredible amount of money is being spent on giving fighters weapons. Some of the countries providing these arms are also those talking of peace. How can one believe in those who caress you with the right hand while hitting you with the left?” the Pope says.

Caritas, the Catholic Church’s global network of humanitarian agencies, provides food, healthcare, basic needs, education, shelter, counselling, protection and livelihoods in Syria and to refugees in host countries.

National Caritas organisations reached 1.3 million people last year alone.

Dealing with the humanitarian consequences of the five year war in Syria it is the largest Caritas relief operation in the world.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Michel Roy, told Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni that Caritas is launching a new website to support the campaign and it is urging people across the globe to take action:

Michel Roy explains that Caritas Internationalis’ reinforced campaign for “Peace in Syria” is also a response to repeated pleas on the part of its colleagues in Syria and in the whole of the Middle East that more be done “to help them get out of that war that is imposed upon them”.

That’s why, he explains, Caritas has decided to move ahead with three requests:

“First, he says, to pray for an end to this war in Syria because we do believe that in the situation we are facing now prayer has a role to play”.

“Second: We challenge our respective governments – and this campaign is a world campaign because we believe that every government in the world has to engage in some way, they cannot remain indifferent to what is going on – we cannot leave it just to the main powers (the EU, Russia the US) – everyone has something to do. And so we are asking all our members to reach out to their MPs, to their Ministers of Foreign Affairs, to their Heads of State or of Government, to mobilise them so they will do something”.

What we want, Roy says, is that the ceasefire is maintained and extended to other areas in Syria, because first hand witnesses say that the ceasefire, when it is respected, does bring a lot of relief to the people.
And, he continues, we are asking for more engagement in political discussions.

“Whoever, in Syria, has to be at the table – has to be at the table – and the supporting powers just have to facilitate, ensure that all parties sit at the table and that a political solution is found” he says.

“The third request, he says, is to increase the humanitarian support that is needed because so many are trapped in Syria, or have been displaced”.

Roy says the international community is not coming up with enough money to respond to the demand, that’s why we all have to ask our respective governments to engage in more humanitarian support.

He speaks about Pope Francis’ support for the campaign pointing out that the video message is for Caritas members but also for all Christians and men and women of goodwill.

Roy points out that the Pope supports the Caritas initiative with all of its requests but he adds one point which is important which is “we cannot believe that there is not enough money to support the people who are suffering when so much more money is engaged in arms deals”.

“He is wondering if the countries that supply the arms can be believed in their efforts for peace because they are the ones talking about peace on one side, and they are selling arms on the other, so Pope Francis is questioning what their real motivation is” he says.

The new “Syria: Peace is Possible” Caritas website can be found at syria.caritas.org . It includes specially commissioned artwork from Syrian artist Tammam Azzam, an animated film on the war, an award winning photo series and testimony from Syrians living both inside the country and as refugees in bordering nations and beyond.


Source: Linda Bordoni/ Vatican Radio