Vatican City, 24 October 2015 (VIS) – During this morning’s General Congregation, during Vespers for the conclusion of the Synod, the Synod Fathers launched a new appeal for peace and the resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Ukraine, asking the international Community to act via diplomatic channels and to engage in dialogue to end the suffering of thousands of people.
In the declaration, the full text of which is published below, the Fathers make special reference to families compelled to flee their homes, and give thanks to the countries that have welcomed refugees.
“Gathered around the Holy Father Francis, we the Synod Fathers, along with the fraternal Delegates and Auditors participating 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, due to bloody conflicts, they have been victims of unspeakable atrocities. Their conditions of life have been further aggravated in recent months and weeks.
The use of weapons of mass destruction, indiscriminate killings, beheadings, kidnapping of human beings, trafficking in women, the enrolment of children into militias, persecution on the basis of religious belief or ethnicity, the destruction of cultural heritage and countless other atrocities have forced thousands of families to flee their homes in search of refuge elsewhere, often in conditions of extreme precariousness. Currently they are prevented from returning and from exercising the right to live in dignity and safety on their own soil, contributing to the reconstruction and the material and spiritual well-being of their respective countries.
In such a dramatic context, there are continual violations of the fundamental principles of human dignity and of peaceful and harmonious co-existence among persons and peoples, of the most basic rights, such as the rights to life and religious freedom, and of international humanitarian law.
Therefore, we wish to express our closeness to the Patriarchs, the Bishops, the priests, consecrated persons and faithful, as well as all the inhabitants of the Middle East, to demonstrate our solidarity and to assure them of our prayers. We think of all the people who have been kidnapped and ask for their liberation. Our voices unite with the cry of so many innocent people: no more violence, no more terrorism, no more persecution! May the hostilities and weapons trafficking cease immediately!
Peace in the Middle East must be sought not with choices imposed by force, but rather with political decisions that respect the cultural and religious particularities of the individual Nations and their various components.
Although we are grateful especially to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and many European countries for the welcome they have granted to refugees, we wish to make a further plea to the international community so that in the search for solutions they set aside particular interests and make use of the tools of diplomacy, dialogue and international law.
Let us recall the words of Pope Francis 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!’.
We are convinced that peace is possible, and that it is possible to stop the violence in Syria, Iraq, Jerusalem and throughout the Holy Land that every day involves increasing numbers of families and innocent civilians and aggravates the humanitarian crisis. Reconciliation is the fruit of fraternity, justice, respect and forgiveness.
Our sole wish, like that of the people of goodwill who form part of the great human family, is that we may all live in peace, so that ‘Jews, Christians and Muslims find in other believers brothers 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’.
Our thoughts and our prayers extend, with equal 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 Ukraine. We have kept them in mind during the work of this Synod Assembly, like the families of the Middle East, and for them too make a strong plea for a return to a calm and dignified life.
Let us entrust our intentions to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, accustomed to suffering, so that the world may soon become one family of brothers and sisters”.