WASHINGTON – Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement in the wake of conflict and violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan:
“In late September, fighting escalated in the Caucasus region over the long-disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan that is populated primarily by ethnic Armenians. Hundreds of people, including civilians, have reportedly been killed and thousands displaced by the violence in recent weeks. Concerns are rising that involvement by other countries may further expand the conflict.
“My prayers are for a cessation of the violence and for a return to negotiations to resolve this conflict. In his Angelus devotion of September 27, Pope Francis called for ‘the parties in conflict to perform concrete acts of good will and brotherhood that may lead to resolve the problems, not with the use of force and arms but through dialogue and negotiation.’ The Caucasus is a far off and little-known region to most Americans. But those who suffer are always close to Our Lord and to those who follow Him. Let us be challenged and take heart in the words of the Holy Father’s new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, that calls us to that love ‘that transcends the barriers of geography and distance.’ I invite all Catholics and people of good will to join together in prayers for peace in the Caucasus.”
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