Pontiff Calls for End to Syria Violence

Urges Authorities to Commit to Peace

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- During his Angelus address on Sunday, Benedict XVI made an urgent appeal for an end to the bloodshed in Syria.

“In recent days there have been many victims, some of them children. I recall them all in my prayers, just as I do the wounded and those who are suffering the consequences of an increasingly worrying conflict,” he said. 

“I also renew my urgent appeal to put an end to the violence and bloodshed and, finally, invite everyone — particularly the Syrian authorities — to favor the paths of dialogue, reconciliation and commitment to peace,” the Pope continued. 

Today the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, addressed the United Nations’ General Assembly and denounced the use of torture by the Syrian authorities. She also said that there were strong signs of crimes against humanity and recommended that the government led by President Bashar Assad be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Since Feb. 3, “the government has used tanks, mortars, rockets and artillery to pummel the city of Homs,” Pillay said. “According to credible accounts, the Syrian army has shelled densely populated neighborhoods of Homs in what appears to be an indiscriminate attack on civilian areas.”

A message regarding the situation in Syria by Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo expressed concern over what is happening.

Nobody knows what will happen in the coming weeks in Syria, he said. He warned that there could be foreign intervention, or that the entire country could end up in a state of civil war. Syria could end up like Lebanon in the 70s, he said.

“As you may see, the Arab spring did not bring democracy for our country,” the metropolitan observed. He also noted that there is general unhappiness in the Arab world over how events turned out Libya, Egypt and Yemen.

He said that according to the Archbishop of Homs half of the city’s Christian population have fled to other cities and villages in Syria. They have not been able to emigrate to other countries as many of the foreign embassies in Syria have closed.

“In the meantime,” the message concluded, “let us all pray for better future and hope for peace.”

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