Cardinal Parolin Urges International Community to Prevent Genocide

Says It Cannot ‘Close Its Eyes’ to the Situation in the Middle East

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Calling the situation facing Christians in the Middle East unacceptable, the Vatican’s Secretary of State has called for intervention in the Middle East and has reaffirmed the Pope’s words that it is ‘licit to stop the unjust aggressor.’

Addressing yesterday’s Consistory, Cardinal Pietro Parolin stressed that the “fundamental principles, such as the value of human life, human dignity, religious liberty, and peaceful coexistence among peoples and individuals are at stake.” 

According to Vatican Radio, the Cardinal admitted that the conflict in the Middle East is a very complex and multifaceted situation, it requires action on many fronts. He stressed the urgent need to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Turning to the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, Cardinal Parolin spoke on the roles of other regional powers in those conflicts, specifically Iran.

Regarding the use of force to halt aggression and to protect Christians and other groups who are victims of persecution, he said «that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor – always, however, in a manner consistent with international law, as the Holy Father has also affirmed.”

“In any case,” Cardinal Parolin continued, “we have seen clearly that the resolution of the problem cannot be entrusted only to a military response.”

Speaking on the threats posed by the Islamic State, he said: “Attention must be paid to the sources that sustain the organization’s terrorist activities through  more-or-less clear political support, as well as through illegal commerce in oil and the supply of weapons and technology.”

“In a moment of particular gravity, given the growing number of victims caused by the conflicts raging in the Middle East,” he said, “the international community cannot close its eyes before this question, which has profound ethical relevance.”

Another major focus of the Vatican official’s remarks was the exodus of Christians from the region.

He recalled the fundamental role that Christians in the region play, as “artificers of peace, reconciliation, and development,” visible through their schools, orphanages, hospitals and other works of mercy, which serve anyone and everyone, regardless of race or creed.

His next major focal point was the role of the Church, of Christians and of Christianity, in the Middle East, especially in nations which are majority Muslim.

In the early October meeting, the cardinal reported the Middle Eastern nuncios observed a basic problem: “a lack of separation between religion and State,” especially “between the religious sphere and the civil sphere – a tie that makes life difficult for non-Muslim minorities and in particular for the Christian minority.»

Therefore, he underscored the need “to contribute to efforts to nurture the notion of the distinction of these two spheres in the Muslim world.”

The Role of the International Community

The Vatican Secretary of State called on the international community not to remain inert or indifferent before the present situation.

“In the specific case of violations and abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State, the international community, through the United Nations and the structures that exist for [addressing] similar emergencies, must act to prevent possible new genocides and to assist the numerous refugees.”

Cardinal Parolin also stressed that the defense of Christians, religious and ethnic minorities must be done in the context of defending human rights, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. He also called for the oromotion of «juridical instruments» that guarantee the rights of minorities. 

Cardinal Parolin concluded with an appeal that the Church throughout the world, and all Christians everywhere, has the duty to sustain our brothers and sisters in Christ with prayer and with every possible means, and to encourage them to continue to be a meaningful presence for the good of the whole society in the Middle East.

“We must not forget,” he said, “that everything depends upon God and His Grace.”

“But we need to act as though everything depends on us, upon our prayer and upon our solidarity,” he continued. “We are all called, therefore, to work for peace in the world, for the continuity and development of the presence of the Christian communities in the Middle East and for the common good of humanity.”

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