Vatican City: Yesterday Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, met with ambassadors to the Holy See to express the concerns of the Holy Father and the Vatican regarding the unstable situation of peace throughout the world, with special attention to the Middle East and Syria in particular.
The prelate remarked that the Holy Father has on various occasions publicly denounced the conflict in Syria which has so far claimed the lives of over 110,000 civilians, caused innumerable casualties, created four million refugees within the country, and provoked an exodus of more than two million into neighboring countries. “Faced with facts of this type, one cannot remain silent”, he said, “and the Holy See hopes that the competent institutions will clarify the situation and that those responsible will be held accountable”.
Archbishop Mamberti reiterated that it the cessation of violence is an “absolute priority”, and made an appeal to the Parties not to remain “wrapped up in their own interests, but to take with courage and decision the path of encounter and negotiation, overcoming blind opposition”, and added a second plea to the international community “to make every effort to promote, without further delay, clear initiatives for peace in the Nation, always based on dialogue and negotiation”.
He emphasised the importance of “the necessity and urgency of respect for human rights”, and “the urgent need for humanitarian assistance for the majority of the population”. In addition he gave thanks for the generosity of many governments in favour of the suffering Syrian population.
Mamberti underlined that the Catholic Church, for her part, is committed with all the means at her disposal to the humanitarian assistance of the population, Christian or not, and mentioned some matters that the Holy See considers to be of importance in an eventual plan for the future of Syria.
The general principles he proposed for arriving at a just solution to the conflict include: striving for the reinstatement of dialogue between the Parties and for the reconciliation of the Syrian population; the preservation of the unity of the country, avoiding the creation of different zones for the various components of society; and guaranteeing, alongside the unity of the country, also its territorial integrity.
The secretary also referred to the importance of asking all groups to offer guarantees that, in tomorrow's Syria, there will be a place for all, especially minorities including Christians. Mamberti mentioned the importance of respect for human rights and religious freedom, and he emphasised the equal importance of the concept of citizenship, on the basis of which all, independently of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs, are citizens of equal dignity, with equal rights and duties.
He concluded by drawing attention to the particularly worrying phenomenon of “the growing presence of extremist groups in Syria, often originating from other countries. It is therefore important to urge the population and also opposition groups to distance themselves from such extremists, to isolate them and to oppose terrorism openly and clearly”.