Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
President of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria
We renew our rejection of any foreign military intervention in the Syrian crisis.
We should like to summarise our remarks over the last few days, made in various interviews on the matter.
The tragic situation that Syria has been experiencing for the last two and a half years is the strongest evidence of the primary importance of seeking the earliest possible peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the crisis.
However, dealing with defining the responsibility of this or that side for tragedies, massacres and the use of chemical weapons, though legitimate, is secondary.
King Solomon said there was “a time of war and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 8) Now is the time to make peace.
That is why, as President of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, and as Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, I am adding my voice to all the statements made by most of my brother Eastern Patriarchs, several Episcopal Conferences, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and especially His Holiness Pope Francis and his representative at the United Nations in Geneva, when I state the categorical rejection by Syria’s Catholic Churches, including the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, in Arab countries and those of the expansion, of any foreign intervention in Syria and any attack or intervention of any sort whatsoever.
Furthermore, we join the many countries, comprising over half the world’s population, who reject any outside military intervention in Syria.
Our conviction is still sure: no victory through weapons and violence. Violence leads to violence and weapons to other weapons. The parties to the conflict will continue to fight to the bitter end, as they all have an abundance of weapons.
We wonder how we in Syria have managed to cross the “red line” and fallen into the danger of resorting to chemical weapons.
The answer is that for the last two and a half years, Eastern and Western countries have not stopped sending weapons, money, military experts, secret service agents and Salafist fundamentalist armed gangs of thugs and criminals, who have fallen on Syria like a destructive new flood, far more dangerous even than destructive chemical weapons, whose use on our Syrian soil we reject on any pretext whatever.
Those above mentioned factors have caused the death of 100,000 victims, the forced displacement of eight million Syrians, the traumatisation of two million children, the destruction of the academic future of millions of school-children and students and the destruction of thousands of villages, not to mention the wrecking of both infrastructure and institutions, widespread chaos, the abduction of thousands of people (men, women and children), rape, extortion of ransom, robberies, assaults on civilians, hatred, enmity, revenge, exacerbation of ethnic and religious conflicts, and that among members of the same country, or sometimes of the same family.
Nevertheless, we hope for a unanimous, global campaign to be orchestrated to prepare seriously and carefully for the Geneva 2 meeting. Contrary to the calls to arms, attacks and military interventions, we enjoy listening to appeals from around the world aimed at creating an atmosphere of reconciliation, dialogue, humanitarian solidarity, hope, forgiveness and finally peace. These are all contributory factors to creating an atmosphere conducive for holding Geneva 2.
Meanwhile, we are launching a campaign of prayer in our churches, homes, youth movements and confraternities.
So we join in the calls for prayer that have been launched around the world for peace in Syria, as that is the real movement for solidarity with Syria.
We entrust ourselves, with all our faithful and fellow-citizens, to the protection of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Damascus, Queen of Peace and Mother of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, asking them to allow peace to reign again, in our beloved Syria, Palestine, the Middle East and around the world.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem