Vatican calls on UN Security Council for 'life-saving action' in Middle East

Flooding the region with more and more destructive weapons will not end the violence and the sufferings. What the region needs are negotiated political solutions to the conflicts that continue to engulf it.

By Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher

… In his Address to the General Assembly [Sept. 25, 2015], Pope Francis renewed his  “appeals regarding the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.”

[T]he Holy See feels compelled to echo the pleadings of the 12 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance, of whom seven million are internally displaced and five million have become refugees in other countries. My delegation considers it a grave duty to denounce the utterly senseless destruction of some of world’s priceless cultural patrimony in Syria. The situation is extremely grave and is worsening day by day. Thus, the settlement of the conflict in Syria must be at the top of the priorities of this Council and of all the authorities in Syria and in the Middle East.

Flooding the region with more and more destructive weapons will not end the violence and the sufferings. What the region needs are negotiated political solutions to the conflicts that continue to engulf it. The region needs these solutions now, if it is going to win the war against terror; if its populations are not going to be constrained to flee; if freedom and stable democracy are going to have any chance to flourish in the region; if the leaders of the region are going to learn to settle disputes peacefully; and if outside forces and powers are going to refrain from imposing their wills in the region.

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Any lasting solution to the conflicts in the Middle East and, indeed, to all conflicts in the world, must consider the centrality of the inviolable dignity and rights of the human person regardless of race, religion, political belief and differences. Many individual citizens and groups in the region have suffered and continue to suffer death and all forms of violence because of their religion, ethnicity or political beliefs. Terrorists must never be allowed to destroy centuries of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians in the region. The lie of terrorist groups who claim to kill and oppress in the name of religion must be denounced in the strongest possible terms. How can we watch in silent paralysis as our fellow human beings are being persecuted, exiled, killed, burned, and beheaded, solely because they hold a different religious creed or they happen to belong to a minority group?

Now is the time for life-saving action.

Archbishop Gallagher is Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See. This text is excerpted from this address before the UN Security Council Sept. 30, 2015.

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