BEIRUT — Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai appealed to world
leaders to stop the war in Syria and to work for comprehensive peace
through diplomatic means.
“As the great powers are beating the
drums of a new war against Syria, we regret the absence of a language of
peace from the mouths of senior officials in our world today,” said
Cardinal Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, in an address April 12
directed to the international community.
In reference to the
stance of world leaders toward Syria, the cardinal said, “Most
tragically, their hearts are devoid of the slightest human emotion
toward the millions of innocent Syrians who have been forced to flee
their land under the fire of war, its crimes, destruction, terror and
“We appeal to the conscience of the great powers and
the international community to work to end the war and to bring about a
just, comprehensive and lasting peace through political and diplomatic
means — not military,” Cardinal Rai stressed.
“The people of the
Middle East are entitled to live in peace and tranquility. The
declaration of war is very weak,” he said, adding that peacebuilding is
the ultimate in heroism. “Among the great powers, you will remember that
we all know how to start wars, but we do not know how they end.”
that Lebanon has hosted more than 1.1 million refugees, or nearly half
of its population, “at a time when most European countries have closed
their doors,” Cardinal Rai continued: “We ask today, did these countries
which are beating the drums of war bear a fraction of the hardship due
to the displacement of the Syrian population?”
appeal came amid threats of military retaliation against Syria over the
alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in the Ghouta region.
On April 13, the United States, France and the United Kingdom launched
missiles on Syria, targeting sites intended to weaken the nation’s
chemical weapons capability.
In response, Pope Francis criticized a
failure to find nonviolent means of bringing peace to Syria and other
parts of the world and appealed to world leaders to work for justice and
“I am deeply disturbed by the current world situation, in
which, despite the instruments available to international community, it
struggles to agree on joint action in favor of peace in Syria and other
regions of the world,” he said after praying the “Regina Coeli” with
people gathered in St. Peter’s Square April 15.
unceasingly pray for peace and invite all people of good will to keep
doing the same, I appeal once again to all political leaders so that
justice and peace may prevail,” he said.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow telephoned Pope Francis after the missile
attack, he told reporters April 15 at his residence outside of Moscow.
shared the common concern about the situation in Syria, and we talked
about how Christians should influence this situation to stop violence,
war and so many tragic victims as we have seen in these days,” he said,
according to AsiaNews.
The patriarchate launched an initiative to
unite Christian leaders from the East and West to promote peace and
prevent a humanitarian crisis in Syria, said Father Aleksandr Volkov,
spokesman for the Russian patriarchate.
Other patriarchs taking
part included Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of
Constantinople, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem,
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and Greek Orthodox
Patriarch John X of Antioch and all the East, according to Patriarch
“Each of them has expressed a willingness to continue consultations to find a way to stop the bloodshed,” he added.
Syrian Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of Syria also publicly
condemned the “brutal aggression” of the U.S.-led allied missile attack
and called upon all churches in the countries that participated to
likewise condemn the attack and urge their governments to work toward