Pope Announces Special Mission to Assist Syrian Refugees

Cardinal Robert Sarah Sent to Lebanon to Assist in Humanitarian Efforts in the Region

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI announced he has entrusted Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum» to a special mission in Lebanon to meet with pastors, faithful and refugees from Syria.

During his weekly General Audience, the Holy Father expressed his great concern for «the violent conflict in Syria, where the fighting has not ceased and each day the toll of victims rises.» The Pope also lamented the suffering of so many civilians who have been forced to abandon their homes and flee the country.

The Holy Father had originally planned for a delegation comprised of Synod Fathers to visit Syria as a sign of solidarity to the Christians communities present, but «due to a variety of circumstances and developments» it was not possible for the visit.

Pope Benedict went on to announce his appointment of Cardinal Sarah to meet with Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

«From today until November 10th, he will be in Lebanon where he will meet the Pastors and faithful of the Churches present in Syria. He will visit a number of refugees from that country and will chair a meeting of Catholic charitable agencies to coordinate efforts, as the Holy See has urgently requested, to provide assistance to the Syrian people, within and outside the country,» the Pope said.

Concluding his appeal, the Holy Father called on all parties involved in the conflict to «spare no effort in the search for peace and to pursue through dialogue the path to a just coexistence.»

«We must do everything possible because one day it may be too late,» the Holy Father said.

Humanitarian Efforts Underway

Expanding on the Pope’s appeal, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced that on November 9, Cardinal Sarah will hold a meeting of various Catholic relief agencies working in Syria and the surrounding countries to organize humanitarian efforts in the region.

The meeting, Fr. Lombardi said, «will set out to identify the areas that are in most need of assistance and will organize efforts the Catholic institutions in the region to assist the needs of the Syrian people.»

Fr. Lombardi also announced that a donation of $1 million(US) given by the Synod of Bishops, as well as a personal contribution by the Holy Father, will be made to assist in relief efforts in the region.

«The Holy See is confident that such an ecclesial and humanitarian initiative will contribute in alleviating the situation of so many who suffer in the current crisis and move the parties involved, and all those who have the good of Syria at heart,  to search for a just and peaceful solution to the conflict,» Fr. Lombardi said.

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