Catholic Bishops’ Policy Chair Urges Secretary Kerry To Work For Ceasefire, Serious Negotiations In Syria

August 30, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Bishop Richard E. Patesof Des Moines, Iowa, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on InternationalJustice and Peace, called on Secretary of State John Kerry to work with othergovernments to "obtain a ceasefire" in Syria and create "a future for allSyrians, one that respects human rights and religious freedom."

BishopPates made the call in an August 29 letter to Secretary Kerry.

BishopPates addressed the Syrian crisis the same day Jordan's King Abdullah II andPope Francis met at the Vatican. There Pope Francis spoke of Syria's "tragicsituation" and said that "the path of dialogue and negotiation between allcomponents of Syrian society, with the support of the international community,is the only option to put an end to the conflict and to the violence that everyday causes the loss of so many human lives, especially amongst the helplesscivilian population." The letter can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/syria/upload/letter-to-secretary-kerry-regarding-syria-2013-08-29.pdf

TheU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops previously had urged an end to violence inSyria.

"Thelongstanding position of our Conference of Bishops is that the Syrian peopleurgently need a political solution that ends the fighting and creates a futurefor all Syrians, one that respects human rights and religious freedom," BishopPates said. "We ask the United States to work with other governments to obtaina ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial and neutralhumanitarian assistance, and encourage building an inclusive society in Syriathat protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and otherminorities."

Theentire letter follows.

Dear Secretary Kerry:

Today Pope Francis met with King Abdullah II of Jordan.Regarding their meeting, the Holy Seereported:"Special attention wasreserved for the tragic situation in which Syria finds itself. In this regard,it was reaffirmed that the path of dialogue and negotiation between allcomponents of Syrian society, with the support of the international community,is the only option to put an end to the conflict and to the violence that everyday causes the loss of so many human lives, especially amongst the helplesscivilian population."

With the Holy Father, we abhor the "acts of atrocity" that hedecried in the wake of the attack with chemical weapons.We make our own his admonition: May the"clash of weapons…be silenced.It is notconflict that offers prospects of hope for solving problems, but rather thecapacity for encounter and dialogue."

The longstanding position of our Conference of Bishops isthat the Syrian people urgently need a political solution that ends thefighting and creates a future for all Syrians, one that respects human rightsand religious freedom.We ask the UnitedStates to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate seriousnegotiations, provide impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance, andencourage building an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights ofall its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Richard E. PatesBishop of Des MoinesChair, Committee on International Justice and PeaceUnited States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Keywords: Bishop Richard Pates, Secretary of State John Kerry,Pope Francis, Syria, King Abdullah II, Jordan, U.S. Bishops, U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops, violence, ceasefire

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