Pope Condemns Massacre in Syria
People gather at a mass burial for the victims killed during an artillery barrage from Syrian forces in Houla, Syria, in this handout image dated 26 May. Pope Benedict XVI joined the international community in condemning a massacre in Houla, Syria, 25-26 May, which left about 108 people dead, including 49 children and 34 women. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)
31 May 2012 by Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI
joined the international community in condemning a
massacre in Syria, and he called for Christian and Muslim
leaders in the country to guide their faithful in prayer and collaboration to restore peace and calm.
The massacre in Houla May 25-26 left about 108
people dead, including 49 children and 34 women. The
U.N. Security Council May 27 condemned the massacre
of civilians and, while not pinning all the blame on the
Syrian government, it accused the government of
inappropriately using heavy weapons in a residential area.
In a statement May 28, Jesuit Father Federico
Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the massacre was a
motive of great sorrow and concern for the Holy Father
and the entire Catholic community, as it is for the
international community which has expressed unanimous
condemnation of the incident.
Renewing its appeal for an end to all forms of
violence, the Holy See exhorts the parties involved and
the entire international community to spare no efforts to
resolve this crisis through dialogue and reconciliation,
Father Lombardi said.
The Vatican also said religious leaders and those
who believe in God are called to commit themselves to
promoting the peace which is so much sought after, for the
good of the whole population.
The United Nations estimates that about 9,000
civilians have died since the uprising against President
Bashar al-Assads government began in March 2011.
A Syrian Catholic priest told Catholic News
Service May 30 that atrocities have been occurring every
day for more than a year, but what happened in Houla
obviously is something beyond the international
communitys understanding, so it is finally taking notice.
As a church, we should not be proud of our
position so far, said the priest who asked not to be
identified in order to protect the work he is doing in the
country. While some priests, religious and faithful have
taken the side of the poor, not in a political way, and are
promoting nonviolence and dialogue, others are taking
sides politically, he said.
Being part of the conflict is not living the
Gospel, he said.
Everyone is afraid. There is a lack of
information, and we don't know what the future holds,
the priest said.
It is true, he said, that there are Muslim
fundamentalists who could take advantage of a regime
change in Syria, but the best way to avoid extremists
coming to power is for all citizens to work together.
We have to acknowledge that right now all
Syrian citizens are losers. Right now people think that if
‘they’ win, then I lose. But we all can lose. We need to
rebuild together, he said.