In the view of the Pope's ambassador to Syria, Cardinal Mario Zenari, local religious leaders can help resolve the conflict there. They should be architects of a "rehabilitation" of the country "against hatred and the thirst for revenge".
The Italian cardinal encouraged them to do so in an interview with the Vatican News portal (Tuesday). Zenari praised the pope's call for peace in Syria at the Diplomatic Corps' New Year's reception the previous day and reiterated the pope's words. The Pope addressed precisely the problem that most affects Syria today, Zenari said. "It is easy to be seduced into hopelessness by the sight of the ruins in Aleppo, Homs, Raqqa or Deir Ezzor. They are the result of seven years of war. But as for the actual destruction, that's something else," the Italian cardinal said. This destruction affects the hearts of the people and here it is a matter of "overcoming these wounds", of making possible a reconstruction of Syria.
Children are the saddest witnesses to the violence in Syria
The country is deeply divided. "That multi-ethnic and multi-religious mosaic that was once emblematic of Syria no longer exists," the Vatican diplomat said. In addition, bombs continued to fall, Damascus was constantly under Israeli attack. Explosions were also reported in the northern province of Idlib, he said – the latest attack on Monday killed more than 20 civilians. Above all, the children were victims of these bombs, Zenari continued to Vatican News, "They were the saddest witnesses of the violence from the very beginning. Many have become orphans, some have seen with their own eyes how their parents were killed. There are quite a few who were sexually abused or fought as child soldiers. We should remember the words of the Pope at Christmas when he said that the time has come to let the deep wounds in their souls heal."
Christians as bridge builders between ethnic groups
Zenari called for support for Christians displaced from Syria: 'They play a fundamental role in the reconstruction of the country'. If they were back here, they could do what they have always done in Syria: Be bridge builders between the different ethnic groups," the nuncio said. For the Vatican representative in the country, this can only happen "if the representatives of all religions work together," he told Vatican News. "Dialogue and, above all, mutual trust would be the two key elements that religious communities, above all, could bring".