By Linda Bordoni
Echoing the Pope’s call on Sunday to world leaders to renew efforts to bring peace to Syria, Catholic Church leaders from across the Latin American continent have voiced their concern and their appeals.
CELAM and Caritas: join the Pope in praying for peace
A statement released on Monday by the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and by the Caritas Secretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean, urges all men and women of goodwill to unite with the Pope in “promoting moments of prayer, reflection and solidarity for peace” in the war-ravaged nation.
More than 400,000 people have been killed in the 7 year conflict which has also caused over 5.6 million to flee the country and 6.1 million internally displaced persons.
“Violence and war are not the solution to the grave problems of this beautiful and tormented nation” the statement said.
Appeal to the international community
And inviting all faith communities and ordinary citizens to participate in plight of their Syrian brothers and sisters, the bishops urge the international community to “set political and economic interests aside” and to commit to “building peace with justice, and with the understanding that peace is part of a culture of encounter.”
Peruvian bishops: nothing justifies war
The bishops of Peru’s Episcopal Conference also published a statement in which they affirm that “nothing justifies war”.
“A shadow of pain and anguish torments men and women of goodwill across the world. Our people do not want the threat of war. All the nations of the world are exhausted by the spectre of destruction. We believe in the dignity of all human life, whatever its faith, nationality or condition” it said.
The Peruvian bishops conclude recalling the Pope’s words at an interreligious meeting in Assisi in 2016 when he said “The name of God can never justify violence. Only peace is holy, and not war!” And they appealed for prayers not only for the innocent victims of wars, but also for those who make decisions and have the power to stop them: “may God concede the gift of peace”.
Venezuelan bishops: only dialogue and encounter on the path to peace
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference has invited all “Venezuelans to pray for the victims, their families, for all Syrian citizens and for those who are charged with decision- making”, so that “the path to peace” may be undertaken.
“There is no better good for humankind than peace. That’s why today we participate in the sadness that floods the world before the threat of an outbreak of hostilities that can only result in a painful loss of human lives that are precious to God” it said.
The Venezuelan bishops said they are committed – as Christians – to be builders of God’s Kingdom by ensuring that encounter, hope and conciliation prevail over conflict.
They concluded their statement with the prayer that “the Holy Spirit may inspire political leaders to find common spaces in which to build a kingdom of mercy, forgiveness and peace, as we are called to do as children of God”.