Bishops renew call for peace in Syria

Prelates urge dialogue

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Syria has called for an immediate ceasefire in the country as the civil conflict there enters its fourth year.

Concluding a meeting in neighbouring Lebanon on March 12, a situation forced by ongoing fighting in Syria, the prelates issued a statement in which they called for a return to a peaceful nation through dialogue.

"We want a united, free, democratic and pluralistic Syria where everyone enjoys the rights of citizenship, where everyone lives in dignity, whatever their social background or community," the prelates stated.

Decrying the targeting of minority communities struggling to survive between opposing forces, the bishops condemned "all forms of extremism, religious exclusion, murder, crime, blackmail, and any aggression against man and property [and] all attacks against places of worship, churches and mosques, in particular against the Greek-Catholic churches."

Noting the recent release of the nuns of Maalula, the bishops expressed hope that those involved in negotiating their safe return could now “work to address and resolve the cases of bishops, priests and religious abducted in Syria during the conflict”.

The three-day meeting was led by Patriarch Gregory III, and saw the attendance of Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.