On Saturday, the final day of the synod of bishops on the family, the synod fathers and participants released a statement on the situation in the Middle East, Africa and the Ukraine.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the statement.
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Gathered around the Holy Father Francis, Successor of Peter, we Synod Fathers, together with the fraternal Delegates, and the men and women Auditors taking part in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, turn our thoughts to all the families of the Middle East.
For years now, because of the bloody conflicts underway, they are victims of unheard of atrocities. Furthermore, their conditions of life have been aggravated in these last months and weeks.
The use of weapons of mass destruction, the indiscriminate killings, the decapitations, the kidnapping of human beings, the traffic of women, the enlisting of children, persecutions because of creed and ethnicity, the devastation of places of worship, the destruction of the cultural patrimony and innumerable other atrocities have constrained thousands of families to flee from their homes and to seek refuge elsewhere, often in conditions of extreme precariousness. At present they are impeded from returning and from exercising their right to live in dignity and safety in their own land, contributing to the reconstruction and material and spiritual wellbeing of their respective countries.
Continually violated in this dramatic context are the fundamental principles of human dignity and of peaceful and harmonious coexistence between persons and Nations, and the most elementary rights, such as that of life and religious freedom, and international humanitarian law.
Therefore, we wish to express our closeness to the Patriarchs, to the Bishops, to the priests, to the consecrated and to the faithful, as well as to all the inhabitants of the Middle East, to manifest our solidarity and assure them of our prayer. We think of all the kidnapped persons and we ask for their release. Our voices unite themselves to the cry of so many innocents: no more violence, no more terrorism, no more destruction, no more persecutions! May hostilities and the traffic of arms cease immediately!
Peace in the Middle East is sought not with choices imposed by force, but with political decisions that are respectful of the cultural and religious particularities of the individual Nations and of the different realities that compose it.
While we are grateful, in a special way, to Jordan, to Lebanon, to Turkey and to the numerous European countries for the hospitality given to the refugees, we address a new appeal to the International Community, that particular interests may be put aside and that it entrust itself, in the search for solutions, to the instruments of diplomacy, of dialogue and of International Law.
We recall Pope Francis’ words to “all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace!” (Address in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques, Jerusalem, May 26, 2014).
We are convinced that peace is possible and that it is possible to stop the violence that in Syria, in Iraq, at Jerusalem and in the whole of the Holy Land, involve every day ever more families and innocent civilians and aggravate the humanitarian crisis. Reconciliation is the fruit of fraternity, of justice, of respect and of forgiveness.
Our sole desire, as that of the persons of good will that form part of the great human family, is that one be able to live in peace. “May Jews, Christians and Muslims find in other believersbrothers and sisters to be respected and loved, and in this way, beginning in their own lands, give the beautiful witness of serenity and concord between the children of Abraham” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 19).
Our thought and our prayer extend, with the same concern, solicitude and love, to all the families that find themselves involved in similar situations in other parts of the world, especially in Africa and in Ukraine. We have kept them very present during the works of this Synodal Assembly, as well as the families of the Middle East, and for them also we ask forcefully a return to a fitting and tranquil life.
We entrust our intentions to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, expert in suffering, that the world may soon become one family of brothers and sisters!
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]