Pope Francis urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to do everything possible 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 Assad met with new Cardinal Mario Zenari, the papal nuncio to Syria, on 12th December and that the cardinal delivered a letter from the pope.
The Vatican confirmed the news a few hours later, saying in a statement 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’.
‘In a letter sent through the new cardinal,’ the Vatican statement said, ‘Pope Francis expressed again his appeal to President Bashar al-Assad and to the international community for an end to the to the violence’ and for a ‘peaceful resolution of hostilities, condemning all forms of extremism and terrorism from whatever quarter they may come’.
The pope also asked Assad ‘to ensure that international humanitarian law is fully respected with regard to the protection of the civilians and access to humanitarian aid’.
Picture: Men walk in rubble near St Mary’s Catholic Church and St Elias Orthodox Church after a bombing in Damascus, Syria, on 13th November. (CNS photo/Mohammed Badra, EPA).