Calling for peace in Syria, Pope Francis condemns use of chemical weapons
Pope appears to be lobbying against threatened U.S.-led airstrikes
Calling for a ceasefire in Syria, Pope Francis resolutely condemned the use of chemical weapons. Speaking to his nearly three million Twitter followers earlier this week, Francis made it clear that he opposes military retaliation against Syria for the government's alleged use of the banned armaments.
Some have interpreted Pope Francis' recent remarks as being intended to dissuade the religious from backing appeals by President Obama, along with other Western leaders calling for punitive airstrikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The pope also called on Catholics and followers of all faiths around the world to observe a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and the Middle East.
"Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: It is the cry for peace!" the pontiff told the faithful gathered for Angelus prayers in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis declared in an earlier tweet, "War never again! Never again war!"
Some have interpreted Francis' recent remarks as being intended to dissuade the religious from backing appeals by President Obama, along with other Western leaders calling for punitive airstrikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Western government claim they have indisputable proof that Assad's forces unleashed poison gas attacks in Damascus suburbs August 21 that reportedly left more than 1,400 dead, including 426 children.
The White House has asked Congress to vote on its plan to attack Assad to deter him from further use of weapons of mass destruction. At least 100,000 have died in the nearly three-year-old Syrian civil war, which shows no sign of ending soon.
"There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming," the pope said, an apparent reference to the threatened airstrikes.
"I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed!"
Pope Francis also cautioned concerning judgments about responsibility for the deaths of innocents being made by laymen.
"There is the judgment of God, and also the judgment of history, upon our actions," he said, "from which there is no escaping."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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