13 December 2016
Catholic News Service
Pope writes to President Assad urging him to end the war in Syria
The news of the Pope's intervention came as the UN warned of atrocities against civilians in Aleppo
Pope Francis has written to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asking him to to end the war in his country, to protect civilians and to ensure humanitarian agencies can deliver emergency aid to the people.
Syria's SANA news agency reported that Assad met with new Cardinal Mario Zenari yesterday (12 December), who delivered the letter. Cardinal Zenari is the papal nuncio to Syria.
The Vatican confirmed the news a few hours later, saying: "Pope Francis expressed again his appeal to President Bashar al-Assad and to the international community for an end to the violence" and for a "peaceful resolution of hostilities, condemning all forms of extremism and terrorism from whatever quarter they may come."
In the letter the Pope asked Assad "to ensure that international humanitarian law is fully respected with regard to the protection of the civilians and access to humanitarian aid".
The statement also said that "in naming Archbishop Mario Zenari to the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father sought to show a particular sign of affection for the beloved Syrian people, so sorely tried in recent years".
The news of the Pope's intervention came as the UN warned of pro-Syrian regime forces entering homes in the last remaining rebel strongholds in eastern Aleppo, killing civilians on the spot.
The Pope has spoken regularly about his concern for the embattled city. After reciting the Angelus prayer on 11 December with people in St Peter's Square, the Pope said that he is close in prayer to the people of the besieged city of Aleppo.
"We must not forget that Aleppo is a city and that there are people there: families, children, elderly, sick," he said. "Unfortunately, we have become used to the war and destruction, but we must not forget that Syria is a country full of history, culture and faith. We cannot allow this to be negated by war, which is a pile of abuse and falsity."
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