It seems extraordinary to me that there is not a greater outcry from the church against the carnage in Syria. We might have hoped that followers of Jesus Christ across the US in particular might have rallied to oppose their government’s efforts to pour further weapons into the already-devastated country. For the most part though church leaders have been cautious if not muted in their criticisms.
The letter of Bishops Pates and Kicanas is encouraging, though it may prove to be too little and too late.
US Bishops Urging Syrian Ceasefire
The bishops overseeing international peace and relief efforts for the Church in the US urged Secretary of State John Kerry to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire in Syria, initiate negotiations and provide humanitarian assistance, all in an effort to build “an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.”
Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, sent a letter to Kerry on Wednesday.
Bishop Pates is chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. Bishop Kicanas is chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, the bishops’ international humanitarian agency.
“The Syrian people urgently need a political solution that ends the fighting and creates a future for all Syrians, one that respects human rights and religious freedom,” wrote Bishop Pates and Bishop Kicanas. The bishops cited the appeals for peace in Syria made by Pope Francis on Easter Sunday and in his June 15 message to the G8 Summit.
The bishops noted the reported use of chemical weapons, the United Nations estimate of more than 93,000 deaths, the displacement of millions from their homes and the kidnapping of two Orthodox archbishops on a mission of mercy as urgent reasons for a negotiated ceasefire and political solution.
The full text of the bishops’ letter is available in PDF format here.