-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Church Leaders Make Urgent Call for Just Peace in Syria
Appeal Comes on Eve of UN Peace Talks in Geneva
GENEVA, January 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Middle East Christian leaders, the World Council of Churches, and the Holy See have called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria, stressing the conflict won't be resolved by military means.
The appeal was made in a statement issued after the leaders met for a consultation at the WCC headquarters in Geneva Jan. 15-17 to address the UN-backed Geneva II peace talks on Syria which begin on Wednesday.
The leaders expressed their concern for all people affected by the "indiscriminate violence and humanitarian calamity" in the country. "We hear their cries, knowing that when 'one member suffers, all suffer together with him,'" they said, quoting 1 Corinthians 12.
"There will be no military solution to the crisis in the country," they stressed in the statement, and recommended a series of steps for building peace.
These comprised an "immediate" ceasefire, the release of kidnapped persons, and an end to the flow of arms into Syria. They called for "appropriate humanitarian assistance" for all those affected, and "full humanitarian access" where large populations are at risk. They recommended a "comprehensive and inclusive" peace process, fully integrating women and young people. And they argued that Geneva II must be "transformed into a peace-building process".
To do this, they advised that such a process be Syrian-led, transparent and credible. They advocated the support of the Arab League, the United Nations, and stressed that the territorial integrity, independence and diversity of Syria must be preserved. Furthermore, they called for equal rights for all of its citizens as well as human rights, dignity and religious freedom for all.
"As Christians we speak with one voice in calling for a just peace in Syria," the leaders said. "To achieve this peace, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with Muslim sisters and brothers, with whom we share a common history along with spiritual and social values."
"We seek to work for national reconciliation and healing through building trust," they said.
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