VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sharply criticizing a failure to find nonviolent
means of bringing peace to Syria and other parts of the world, Pope
Francis appealed to world leaders to work for justice and peace.
"I am deeply disturbed by the current world
situation, in which, despite the instruments available to international
community, it struggles to agree on joint action in favor of peace in Syria and
other regions of the world," he said after praying the "Regina Coeli" with people gathered in St.
Peter's Square April 15.
"While I unceasingly pray for peace and invite
all people of good will to keep doing the same, I appeal once again to all
political leaders so that justice and peace may prevail," he said.
The pope's appeal came after the United States, France
and the United Kingdom launched missiles on Syria April 13, targeting sites intended
to weaken the nation's chemical weapons capability. The missile strikes came
one week after
an alleged chemical attack in the Ghouta region, outside Damascus.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow telephoned
Pope Francis after the missile attack, he told reporters April 15 at his
residence outside of Moscow.
"We shared the common concern about the situation
in Syria, and we talked about how Christians should influence this situation to
stop violence, war and so many tragic victims as we have seen in these days,"
he said, according to AsiaNews.
The patriarchate launched an initiative to unite
Christian leaders from the East
and West to promote
peace and prevent a humanitarian crisis in Syria, said Father Aleksandr Volkov,
spokesman for the Russian
Christians "cannot be silent when things like
those of these days are taking place in Syria," Patriarch Kirill said.
Other patriarchs taking part included Orthodox
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox
Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and Greek
Orthodox Patriarch John X of
Antioch and all the East, according to Patriarch Kirill.
"Each of them has expressed a willingness to
continue consultations to
find a way to stop the bloodshed," he added.
The Syrian Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of Syria
also publicly condemned the "brutal aggression" of the U.S.-led
allied missile attack and called upon all churches in the countries that
participated to likewise condemn the attack and urge their governments to work
In a statement issued April 14 from the Syrian capital
of Damascus -- the patriarchal seats of their respective churches -- the
patriarchs said they "condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took
place this morning against our precious country Syria by the U.S.A., France and
the U.K., under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical
The statement was signed by Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius
Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John. The brother of Patriarch
John X -- Greek
Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazii -- is one
of two bishops who were
kidnapped near the Syrian city of Aleppo April 22, 2013, and whose fate is still
Referring to the April 14 air strikes, the Catholic and
Orthodox patriarchs said the timing of "this unjustified aggression
against Syria" undermines the work of the independent International
Commission for Inquiry, which was about to carry out its investigation in Syria
into the alleged chemical attack.
"The allegations of the U.S.A. and other
countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a
country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified
and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence," the Christian leaders
"This brutal aggression is a clear violation of
the international laws and the U.N. Charter, because it is an unjustified
assault on a sovereign country," the patriarchs said of the April 14 air
strikes, emphasizing that Syria is a member of the United Nations.
"It causes us great pain that this assault comes
from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way,"
The Syrian Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs warned
that the "unjust aggression" of April 14 encourages terrorist
organizations "and gives them momentum to continue in their terrorism."
"This brutal aggression destroys the chances for
a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications,"
they said. The patriarchs urged the U.N. Security Council "to play its natural role in bringing
peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars."
"We call upon all churches in the countries that
participated in the aggression
to fulfill their Christian duties, according to the teachings of the Gospel,
and condemn this aggression and to call their governments to commit to the
protection of international peace," the Syrian Catholic and Orthodox
The Christian leaders commended the Syrian Arab Army, "which
courageously protects Syria and provides security for its people," and
offered prayers for the victims of the April 14 missile strikes.
"We are confident that the army will not bow
before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to
fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is
cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries
which are friendly to Syria
and its people," the patriarchs concluded.