ROME — After spending three days in Rome to celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis’s diplomatic representatives throughout the world have called on government leaders to make greater efforts in ending conflict and promoting peace.
According to a Sept. 19 communique from the Vatican, the papal ambassadors – called apostolic nuncios – issued “a pressing appeal” to the international community and to those with governing responsibilities to “strive ever more effectively to stop violence.”
The nuncios urged leaders to “peacefully resolve the conflicts in various parts of the world,” and expressed their solidarity with all innocent victims of the world’s many violent conflicts.
They also offered their support to those who face religious persecution, praying to “the Father of every mercy” for those suffering and for their intentions.
Out of his 108 ambassadors around the world, 106 gathered with Pope Francis in Rome Sept. 15-17 for the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The appeal of the apostolic nuncios came as a shaky ceasefire between rebels and government forces in Syria continues to crumble. Initially going into effect Sept. 12, the seven-day ceasefire was meant to allow humanitarian aid to reach crisis areas, and signal a step in ending years of violent conflict.
However, as of Sept. 19, the Russia-U.S. brokered deal was barely hanging in the balance, with numerous violations reported on each side.
The Syrian civil war has raged since March 2011. More than 280,000 people have been killed, while over 12 million are displaced or have become refugees. Some of the combatants have conducted atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities.
In a Sept. 17 speech to his ambassadors, Pope Francis urged the nuncios always to be aware of the threats that attack their flocks seeking to “disperse and even destroy it.”
He pointed specifically to the many conflicts raging throughout the Middle East, noting that “the violent siege seems to aim, with the complicit silence of many, toward their eradication.”
He highlighted the importance of going to the root of the underlying problem, and then to discern “the possible paths to counter their causes and tackle their pitfalls.”
The world, he said, “is afraid and is spreading fear. Often this is the key it adopts in its reading of reality and chooses – as its strategy – to build a world founded on walls and trenches.”
However, while the reasons for this fear are understandable, “we must not embrace it, ‘for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control’,” he said, and urged the nuncios to “open doors, build bridges, create ties, make friendships, promote unity.”