In a heartfelt appeal at the end of his General Audience Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI announced that due to “tragic” developments in Syria, the announced Vatican delegation would no longer be able to carry out its peace mission to that nation as planned.
Instead the Holy Father has entrusted a special mission Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, who has travelled to Lebanon to meet with Catholic charities currently caring for refugees fleeing the war.
Below the complete text of the Holy Father’s appeal:
I continue to follow with great concern the tragic situation of violent conflict in Syria, where the fighting has not ceased and each day the toll of victims rises, accompanied by the untold suffering of many civilians, especially those who have been forced to abandon their homes.
As a sign of my own solidarity and that of the whole Church for the Syrian people, as well as our spiritual closeness to the Christian communities in that country, I had hoped to send a Delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus.
Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances and developments, it was not possible to carry out this initiative as planned, and so I have decided to entrust a special mission to Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
From today until 10 November, he will be in Lebanon, where he will meet the Pastors and faithful of the Churches present in Syria. He will visit a number of refugees from that country and will chair a meeting of Catholic charitable agencies to coordinate efforts, as the Holy See has urgently requested, to provide assistance to the Syrian people, within and outside the country.
As I make my prayer to God, I renew my invitation to the parties in conflict, and to all those who have the good of Syria at heart, to spare no effort in the search for peace and to pursue through dialogue the path to a just coexistence, in view of a suitable political solution of the conflict.
It is never too late to work for peace!