Saturday, October 01, 2016

Pope: the logic of weapons and oppression, dark interests and violence continue to devastate Syria and Iraq

"The weapons of logic and oppression, the dark interests and violence continue to wreak havoc" Syria and Iraq: If we have "the impression of being wrapped in a spiral of arrogance and inertia from which no there seems to be no escape” it is the experience of the evil that is in man and in history.
 
The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East continues to be a central concern for the Pope who, after numerous appeals for an end to the violence, or at least for help for the people, today received the members of Catholic charitable organizations operating in Syria, Iraq and neighboring countries in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican. The aid agencies are gathered in Rome for their fifth meeting organized by Cor Unum.

The audience was also attended by Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations to Syria, which is also scheduled to speak at the gathering who has drawn together about 40 Catholic charity organizations.

Francis first expressed his grateful appreciation to Cor Unum "for the careful and effective support to what the Church is doing to try to alleviate the suffering of millions of victims of these conflicts. In this sense, I would stress the importance of a renewed cooperation at all levels between different actors operating in this area".

Data released by the Pontifical Council reveal that the ecclesial network, in total, in the period 2015-2016 reached more than 9 million individual beneficiaries, mobilizing approximately $ 207 million (2015) and $ 196 million (this year to July2016) .

In Syria and Iraq, four and a half million people directly assisted by Catholic Charities, with twelve thousand workers involved in the two areas of conflict and in neighboring countries where refugees have taken refuge.

The Pope stressed that "a year after our last meeting we note with great sadness that despite the many efforts made in various areas, the logic of weapons and oppression, the dark interests and violence continue to ravage these countries and that, until now, there has been no end to the exhausting suffering and the continued violation of human rights. The dramatic consequences of the crisis are already visible far beyond the borders of the region. The serious phenomenon of migration is an expression of this".

"Violence begets violence and we have the impression of being wrapped in a spiral of arrogance and inertia from which there seems no escape. We should question this evil that grips consciousness and will power. Why does man, even at the price of untold damage to people, property and the environment, continue to pursue lies, revenge, violence? We only have to think of the recent attack on a UN humanitarian convoy ... It is the experience of that mysterium iniquitatis, of the evil that is present in man and in history and needs to be redeemed. Destroying for the sake of destroying! Therefore, in this Holy Year, in which we fix our gaze on Christ more intensely, the incarnate Mercy who has conquered sin and death, I am reminded of these words of St. John Paul II: "The limit imposed upon evil, of which man is the architect and victim, is ultimately Divine Mercy "(Memory and identity, p. 70). It is the only limit. Yes, the answer to the drama of evil lies in the mystery of Christ. Looking to the many suffering faces, in Syria, in Iraq and in neighboring and distant countries where millions of refugees are forced to seek refuge and protection, the Church sees the face of her Lord during his Passion”.

"The work of those like you who represent the many workers on the ground, who are committed to helping these people and to safeguarding their dignity, is certainly a reflection of God's mercy and, as such, a sign that evil has a limit and that it does not have the last word. It is a sign of great hope, for which I want to thank, along with you, so many anonymous people - but not anonymous for God! - who, especially in this jubilee year, pray and intercede in silence for the victims of conflicts, especially for children and the weak, and in doing so support your work. In Aleppo, the children have to drink polluted water !. Beyond the necessary humanitarian aid, what our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq want most now is peace. Therefore I will never tire of asking the international community for more and renewed efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East and not to look the other way".

"Ending the conflict is also in the hands of each one of us, we can and must be peacemakers, because every situation of violence and injustice is a wound to the body of the entire human family. "My request is made in daily prayer to God to inspire the minds and hearts of those who have political responsibilities, so that they know to give way to partial interests to achieve the greater good: peace. This meeting gives me, in this perspective, the opportunity to thank and encourage international organizations, in particular the United Nations, for their work of support and mediation among different governments, to reach agreement to end the conflict and finally put the welfare of defenseless people in first place. It is a road that we must travel together with patience and perseverance, but also as a matter of urgency, and the Church will continue to make its contribution".

"Finally, my thoughts turn to the Christian communities of the Middle East who suffer the consequences of violence and look to the future with fear. In the midst of so much darkness, these churches bear aloft the lamp of faith, hope and charity. Helping with courage and without discrimination those who suffer and working for peace and coexistence, Middle Eastern Christians today are a concrete sign of God's mercy. They need the admiration, gratitude and support of the universal Church. I commend these communities and those who work in the service of the victims of this crisis to the intercession of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, model of charity and mercy. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you. And thank you, thank you so much for what you do. Thank you so much!".

After the meeting with the Pope, the participants will come together at the Pontifical Urbaniana University. After the introduction of Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council, Staffan de Mistura will address those gathered, followed by the presentation of the Second survey on the response of the Church's network to the Iraqi and Syrian humanitarian crisis 2015-2016, made by "Cor Unum" and the intervention of the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

In the afternoon, after updates on the political and humanitarian situation by Msgr. Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria, and Msgr. Alberto Ortega, apostolic nuncio in Iraq, the participants will meet in working groups and the meeting will focus on the practical aspects of collaboration between the various parties involved in the Middle East.

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