Rome, Friday October 25th, 2013
We the Jesuit Provincials, as major superiors of the Society of Jesus
in the Middle East and in Europe, warmly welcome the Holy Father's
recent statement on Syria. With all his strength, he alerted
international opinion to the Syrian tragedy and asked "all the parties
in conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience and not close
themselves in solely on their own interests" (Pope Francis - Angelus prayer - 1st
September 2013). With him, we also declare that "never has the use of
violence brought peace in its wake", but that the only way to peace is
through the culture of encounter and the culture of dialogue.
Steps toward peace
Therefore, we rejoice that the threat of air attacks against Syria
has ceased and we support the launching of the process which aims at the
destruction of all chemical weapons found on Syrian soil. We welcome
negotiations for a peace conference for Syria which have now begun and
we urge that this peace process moves forward rapidly, courageously and
firmly. We ask all parties in the conflict, as well as the
- to urgently seek a cease-fire guaranteed by an international authority;
- to establish a road-map to prepare the meeting of all the parties in conflict;
- to convene the peace conference to reach a common agreement which safeguards the lives of the Syrian people.
Social and civil mobilization
At the same time, we call once again for mobilization of all civil
and social agencies to help the Syrian people face one of the biggest
humanitarian tragedies of our century. The care of refugees both within
and outside the country (about one quarter of the population), the need
for food, medicine and medical aid, freeing detainees and hostages, and
the reopening of educational institutions, continue to be urgent needs..
Interests at play
We also wish to draw attention to the necessity of acknowledging and
naming the real interests that are at play, both locally, regionally or
internationally, and which, unfortunately, do not always correspond with
the interests of the Syrian people. In particular, we call for a
reflection on the consequences of the production and sale of arms; we
call for the cessation of the delivery and the sale of arms to all
parties in conflict.
With the wider international community, we would also like to urge
the refusal of all support, whether diplomatic or military, for every
party, which openly advocates any forms of violence, fanaticism or
extremism. Respect for the dignity of the person as well as for human
rights should constitute a criterion and a preliminary primary point of
reference for all material aid.
Christian communities in Syria
Finally, we point particularly to the ill-treatment and victimisation
of Christian communities living in Syria. Present in Syria since the
beginning of the Christian era, these communities constitute an
inseparable element of its social fabric and its cultural richness and
they contribute actively to its development. Solutions advocating the
exile or the elimination of these communities are unacceptable. We want
to encourage those Christian communities and to assure them that they
can play a valuable role in their societies through faithful witness to
the Gospel: a gospel that calls for peace, justice, forgiveness,
understanding and reconciliation.
We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.