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As the U.S. government weighs diplomatic and military options in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the USCCB released a statement Sept. 10 urging dialogue and peace. The bishops join Pope Francis in condemning the use of chemical weapons but also stand united with the Holy Father in his call for a peaceful solution.
"Chemical weapons have no place in the arsenals of the family of nations. There is no doubt that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a heinous crime against humanity," said the bishops in the statement.
"Tragically, the deaths from chemical weapons are only part of the grievous story of Syria these days," the statement continued. "More than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives. More than 2 million have fled the country as refugees. More than 4 million within Syria have been driven from their homes by violence. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Syria. We call upon our nation and the international community to save lives by pressing for serious dialogue to end the conflict, by refraining from fueling further violence with military attacks or arms transfers, and by offering more humanitarian assistance."
The USCCB joins not only Pope Francis, but also the bishops of the Middle East and the people of Syria in voicing serious concerns against military intervention.
"As one, they beg the international community not to resort to military intervention in Syria," said the bishops. "They have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences."
The bishops cited the lack of international support and questioned the probability of success in "shortening the conflict and saving lives."
They stressed the need for negotiations to find a diplomatic solution, emphasizing that "[t]he use of force is always a last resort." They asked the United States "to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities."
You can read the entire statement at USCCB.org.
Find out more about Pope Francis’ efforts for peace at osv.com.