“While the people suffer, incredible quantities of money are being spent to supply weapons to fighters,” the Pope said in his video message, published July 5.
He noted that some of the countries supplying the weapons “are also among those that talk of peace. How can you believe in someone who caresses you with the right hand and strikes you with the left hand?”
Francis encouraged people of all ages throughout the world to use the Holy Year of Mercy as an occasion to “overcome indifference and proclaim with strength that peace in Syria is possible! Peace in Syria is possible!”
His message accompanied the launch of a new campaign by Catholic charity organization Caritas Internationalis titled “Syria: peace is possible.”
The Syrian civil war, already in its fifth year, is the largest relief operation undertaken by Caritas. Since the conflict began it has claimed the lives of more than 270,000 people. There are more than 4.6 million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, and an additional 8 million Syrian people are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.
Among other things, Caritas provides food, healthcare, essential necessities, education, housing and psychological care to refugees. In 2015 alone national Caritas branches in the conflict area provided assistance to 1.3 million people.
In their campaign, promoted on Twitter and other social media sites with the hashtag: “#peacepossible4syria,” asks that Caritas supporters throughout the world “put pressure on their governments,” according to a July 5 press release.
This pressure, the release read, ought to ensure that all parties involved in the conflict “unite to find a peaceful solution;” that they support the thousands of people suffering due to the consequences of war and that they provide Syrians both inside and outside the country “dignity and hope.”
In his message, Pope Francis said that the Syrian conflict is a situation of “unspeakable suffering” and “saddens my heart a lot.”
Syrian people, he noted, “are victims” of this suffering and are “forced to survive under bombs or to find escape routes to other countries or areas of Syria that are less war-torn: to leave their own home, everything.”
He also turned his thoughts to the Christian communities and the “discrimination they have to bear,” giving them his full support.
Francis extended the invitation for people and world leaders everywhere to pray for peace in Syria and for its citizens at events such as prayer vigils, awareness-raising initiatives, in parishes and in communities, so that the message of peace, unity and hope is spread.
“Works of peace then follow prayer,” he said, and urged those involved in peace negotiations “to take these agreements seriously and to make every effort to facilitate access to humanitarian aid.”
Everyone must recognize that “there is no military solution for Syria, but only a political solution,” he continued, stressing that the international community “must therefore support the peace talks heading towards the construction of a government of national unity.”
Pope Francis encouraged people at all levels of society to “join forces” in ensuring that “peace in Syria is possible.” That, he said, “will be a great example of mercy and love lived for the good of all the international community!”