War Is a Dead End, European Bishops Say on Syria

Damascus Prelate Reports Exhausted Christians Turn in Prayer to Martyrs

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ST. GALLEN, Switzerland, JULY 19, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The presidency of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences is urging an end to the violence in Syria, affirming that war is always a dead end.

Their statement today follows what might be a significant shift in the fighting, as Wednesday, Syria’s defense minister, the brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad, and a host of others were killed or wounded by a bomb smuggled into a meeting in Damascus.

The bishops’ statement today was signed by Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and president of the CCEE; Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and CCEE vice president; and Archbishop Józef Michalik of Przemyśl and CCEE vice president; and the bishops lamented that weapons have replaced dialogue in the besieged state.

On Wednesday, the Maronite archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar, spoke to Fides about “this period of mindless violence,” saying, “our voices are drowned by the long ordeal of the country and by a complexity that is blocking any diplomatic solution. The country is sinking in sorrow and gratuitous violence and there is still no end in sight, we have been in a protracted conflict for more than 16 months.”

The 62-year-old prelate described the minority Christian community as exhausted, saying they turn “in silence and prayer, to the martyrs, that on July 10 last year we solemnly remembered: the three brothers, Francesco, Abdel-Mooti and Raffaele Massabki, Maronite Catholic laity, blessed and martyred during the persecution unleashed by the Turks in 1860 against the Church. They remind us of what Jesus said: Do not fear.”

Inevitable grief

The CCEE bishops expressed hope that Syrian authorities and people, and “all believers, of whatever religion, may look towards God and find the path which will bring an end to all hostilities, lay down arms and embark on the path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace.”

The prelates affirmed that the conflict “can only bring inevitable grief, destruction and serious consequences for the noble Syrian people. War is a dead end. Happiness can only be achieved together, never through the misuse of power by one group against another.”

The bishops suggested that the next few days can be “decisive for the outcome of this crisis” and they called for an increase in prayer for the region.

“Our faith leads us to hope that a solution to the crisis is possible, a solution which is fair and constructive, respectful of everyone’s interests,” they wrote. “It is necessary to find once again the room for a dialogue of peace; it is never too late to understand each other, to negotiate and build together a common future.

“We are sure that, with God’s help, good sense may prevail and produce a peaceful living in harmony in truth, justice, love, freedom and respect for all minorities, especially the nation’s Christians.”

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