VATICAN CITY (CNS) — All sides need to come together to end the war in Syria and bring some sign of hope to an exhausted and tormented people, Pope Francis said.
The international community also needs to commit itself to helping rebuild the nation, so that once the fighting has stopped, “the social fabric can be mended and reconstruction and economic recovery can begin,” the pope said after praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square March 14.
March 15 marked 10 years since the beginning of war in Syria, causing “one of the most serious humanitarian disasters of our time,” the pope said.
Protesters began rallies demanding an end to repression in Syria March 15, 2011, after being inspired by other “Arab Spring” demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
However, President Bashar Assad’s government responded with the military shooting demonstrators and triggering an ongoing civil war that has drawn in rebels, Islamic State militants and other nations in a proxy war.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported in January 2020 it had estimated that nearly 585,000 people had been killed since the beginning of the war, of which more than 115,000 were civilians, including children. More than 11 million civilians have been displaced with 5.6 million of them registered as refugees outside of Syria.
The World Food Program warned last year that half of all Syrians were going to bed hungry and the country was on the brink of “mass starvation.” Meanwhile, COVID-19 is spreading, unhindered by a health care system largely destroyed during the 10 years of war.
Pope Francis lamented the plight of all those who have been killed, injured, forced into fleeing or disappeared; he underlined how the entire population continues to face destruction, violence and “inhumane suffering,” but also how the war affects in particular those who are most vulnerable like women, children and the elderly.
“I renew my heartfelt appeal to all parties to the conflict to show signs of goodwill, so that a glimmer of hope may open up for the exhausted population,” he said.
“Let us all pray to the Lord that the great suffering in our beloved and tormented Syria may not be forgotten and that our solidarity might revive hope,” he said before leading people in the square in praying the Hail Mary.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103