Ahead of the upcoming G20 summit, Pope Francis sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin today, who is hosting the meeting of international leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia. Although the meeting tends to focus on the state of the world’s finances, the current tension regarding the Syrian conflict is expected to dominate.
In his letter, the Holy Father stated that in today’s “highly interdependent context”, the G20’s focus should continue to remain on achieving a global financial framework that would serve to overcome hunger, ensure employment, and provide healthcare for those most in need. Pope Francis commended Putin’s presidency of the G20 summit for its commitment to the reform of international financial organizations.
“However, the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places,” the Holy Father said.
“From this standpoint, it is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal.”
Referencing the current conflict in Syria, the Holy Father stated that wars are a direct “refusal” of the economic and social goals set out by the Millenium Development Goals of the United Nations.Unfortunately, he said, “the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.”
Continuing his letter, Pope Francis stated that the meeting of the twenty most powerful economies must have “international security as its principal purpose”, laying out the conflict in the MIddle East, espcially in Syria as a prime example. The Holy Father bemoaned what he described as “one-sided” interests that are prevailing and that are in fact hindering the search for a solution to end the conflict that would put an end to the suffering of thousands of Syrians”.
“The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace,” the Pope said.
“To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.”
Concluding his statement, Pope Francis expressed his hope that his words would provide a “valid spiritual contribution” to the G20 summit, as well as invoking his blessing on the participants and citizens of the member states.