'It's Licit to Stop Unjust Aggressor,' Pope Reaffirms to Authorities

Also Gives 3 Pillars for Solidarity Needed to Counter Fanaticism

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“The international community has the moral obligation to assist Turkey in taking care of these refugees,” Pope Francis affirmed, addressing Turkish authorities this afternoon during day one of his three-day visit to Turkey.

Highlighting how Turkey is “directly affected by this tragic situation” and has “generously welcomed” a great number of refugees from neighboring Syria and Iraq, the Pontiff made this appeal to the international community, saying we cannot remain indifferent.

“In reaffirming that it is licit, while always respecting international law, to stop an unjust aggressor, I wish to reiterate, moreover, that the problem cannot be resolved solely through a military response.”

Present at this meeting held in the presidential palace in Ankara were Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, and authorities. This gathering followed the Pope’s visit to the presidential palace, his welcoming ceremony, and his visit with the president himself.

During this address, the Pope spoke on the grave conflicts we still are witnessing and what is needed.

“The Middle East, in particular, has for too long been a theatre of fratricidal wars, one born of the other,” he said, “as if the only possible response to war and violence must be new wars and further acts of violence.”

Noting that in Syria and Iraq terrorist violence shows no signs of abating, Pope Francis asked: “How much longer must the Middle East suffer the consequences of this lack of peace?”

“We must not resign ourselves to ongoing conflicts as if the situation can never change for the better! With the help of God, we can and we must renew the courage of peace!” he said. He added, “Such courage will lead to a just, patient and determined use of all available means of negotiation, and in this way achieve the concrete goals of peace and sustainable development.”

Freedom and dignity

“Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears which foster misunderstanding and discrimination,» the Pope said, “need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers,” which must rest on three pillars: “respect for human life and for religious freedom,” “commitment to ensuring what each person requires for a dignified life,” and “care for the natural environment.”

What is needed, the Pope said, is a dialogue that deepens the understanding and appreciation of the many things we hold in common.

Also needed, he added, is to “move forward patiently in the task of building a lasting peace, one founded on respect for the fundamental rights and duties rooted in the dignity of each person,” he said. “In this way, we can overcome prejudices and unwarranted fears, leaving room for respect.”

It is essential, he stressed, that all citizens, Muslim, Jewish and Christian, respect each other’s duties and rights. «Freedom of religion and freedom of expression, when truly guaranteed to each person,» he explained, «will help friendship to flourish and thus become an eloquent sign of peace.»

By virtue of its history, geographical position and regional influence, Turkey has a great responsibility, the Pope concluded. “The choices Turkey makes, and its example, are especially significant and can be of considerable help in promoting an encounter of civilizations and in identifying viable paths of peace and authentic progress.”


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-turkish-authorities

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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