ASIA/SYRIA - The Assembly of Bishops (7 absent) re-launches reconciliation and calls on the vote

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - The conflict and ongoing violence in Syria have had a strong impact on the Assembly of Catholic bishops of Syria, which ended in recent days in Aleppo. As reported to Fides, out of 17 Prelates present at the Conference (which brings together Catholic Bishops from all religions and rites) 7 were absent and were unable to reach Aleppo for security reasons. There were no Bishops from Homs, a city battered by war, who sought refuge in small villages in the mountains. The roads in fact, despite the declared cease-fire, are infested by gangs of militians and movements are still very dangerous.
The Syrian Bishops, at the conclusion of the Assembly, issued a message, sent to Fides, in which they express concern about the violence and launch an appeal for national unity. "We stand by our Syrian people - it says - in search of a decent life, national unity and solidarity among all the different groups that constitute the social, religious and national reality." The Bishops emphasize the urgent need to "pursue a common, effective reform process to be carried out on the field, in services and in the political, social and cultural sphere, coordinating the efforts of all the Syrians - government, political parties, constructive opposition, specialists - in the framework of national unity and active participation in national dialogue," essential to "build a new multi-party and democratic Syria." The Bishops encourage all "to participate in the elections for the National Assembly next May 7, to express the popular will."
Noting that "violence has passed all limits", and expressing full solidarity with all the Syrians who are suffering, the Church "calls for reconciliation and dialogue between the State and all elements of the country, to rebuild confidence, the openness to others and respect for different opinions at a political, religious and intellectual level."
"We support the UN mission of Kofi Annan, in particular in its humanitarian aspect for the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the towns," continues the text, asking for "the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes and compensation to the victims" and to "restore the rule of law. " Through Caritas Syria and all the Catholic institutions, "relief programs for material, pastoral, health and social needs of refugees have started."
After an appeal to the "transparency of information", the message is therefore addressed to the faithful Christians, urging them to solidarity, mutual assistance and the spiritual strength, necessary to overcome the crisis. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 04/05/2012)

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