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WASHINGTON—The bishops overseeing the U.S. Church's international peace and relief efforts urged Secretary of State John Kerry to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire in Syria, initiate negotiations and provide humanitarian assistance, all in an effort to build "an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities."
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, sent the letter June 19. Bishop Pates is chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Kicanas is chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, the bishops' international humanitarian agency.
"The Syrian people urgently need a political solution that ends the fighting and creates a future for all Syrians, one that respects human rights and religious freedom," wrote Bishop Pates and Bishop Kicanas. The bishops cited the appeals for peace in Syria made by Pope Francis on Easter Sunday and in his June 15 message to the G8 Summit.
The bishops noted the reported use of chemical weapons, the United Nations estimate of over 93,000 deaths, the displacement of millions from their homes and the kidnapping of two Orthodox archbishops on a mission of mercy as urgent reasons for a negotiated ceasefire and political solution.
The full text of the bishops' letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/syria/upload/2013-06-Letter-to-Sec-Kerry-on-Syria.pdf
Keywords: Syria, Pope Francis, Bishop Richard E. Pates, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, John Kerry, Secretary of State, USCCB, CRS, Catholic Relief Services, humanitarian aid, International Justice and Peace, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, peace, ceasefire, G8, religious freedom, minorities
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