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Pope to world leaders: Lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution in Syria

Pope Francis is exhausting all efforts to avoid a military strike on Syria. The latest is a the letter he wrote tothe world leaders at the G-20 summit, that is underway in St. Petersburg, Russia. With strong words, Francis wrote that ever since the start of the conflict,"one-sided interests� have interfered with finding a "solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.�

Francis addressed each and everyone of the G20 leaders and asked them to "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution.â? The Vatican spokesman presented the letter during a press conference on Thursday. 

P. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

Vatican Spokesman

"To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.�

The letter  is a clear message to the presidents of the United States and France, and Britain's Prime Minister. All of whom are seeking support for a possible intervention in Syria.

In addition, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states summoned all of the accredited ambassadors of the Holy See, and explained the Pope's position on the Syrian conflict. 

ARCH. DOMINIQUE MAMBERTI

Secretary for Relations with States

"Above all, it's essential to take action towards resuming dialogue between all parts involved to achieve the reconciliation of the Syrian people. It's necessary to protect the country's unity, avoiding a fractionated constitution of its society members. Plus, it's crucial to guarantee, along with the country's unity, territorial integrity.�

The Vatican's top diplomat also asked the opposition to distance itself from extremists.

Pope Francis pressed his call for a day of fasting and prayer dedicated to Syrian peace. It'll take place Saturday, and will end in a four hour prayer vigil at St. Peter's Square. It will be the longest ceremony to date that a Pope has participated in.

COMPLETE TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS LETTER

To His Excellency

Mr Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

In the course of this year, you have the honour and the responsibility of presiding over the Group of the twenty largest economies in the world. I am aware that the Russian Federation has participated in this group from the moment of its inception and has always had a positive role to play in the promotion of good governance of the worldâ??s finances, which have been deeply affected by the crisis of 2008.

In todayâ??s highly interdependent context, a global financial framework with its own just and clear rules is required in order to achieve a more equitable and fraternal world, in which it is possible to overcome hunger, ensure decent employment and housing for all, as well as essential healthcare. Your presidency of the G20 this year has committed itself to consolidating the reform of the international financial organizations and to achieving a consensus on financial standards suited to todayâ??s circumstances. However, the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places.

From this standpoint, it is clear that, for the worldâ??s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.

The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the twenty most powerful economies, with two-thirds of the worldâ??s population and ninety per cent of global GDP, does not have international security as its principal purpose. Nevertheless, the meeting will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria. It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding. The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace. To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the countryâ??s borders.

Mr President, in the hope that these thoughts may be a valid spiritual contribution to your meeting, I pray for the successful outcome of the G20â??s work on this occasion. I invoke an abundance of blessings upon the Summit in Saint Petersburg, upon the participants and the citizens of the member states, and upon the work and efforts of the 2013 Russian Presidency of the G20.

While requesting your prayers, I take this opportunity to assure you, Mr President, of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 4 September 2013

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