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Papal Peacemaker?

The Vatican is working all diplomatic, political and popular angles to prevent an attack on the Syrian dictatorship by the United States and its allies. The United States has tried to justify a strike on the basis of human rights abuses, but it is clearly designed to promote regime change.

The Vatican argues that an offensive could “trigger a wider regional conflict, promote extremism, and make life worse for minority groups, especially Christians.” The Pope has urged Catholics and non-Catholics alike to set aside a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria.” Ambassadors to the Vatican were warned in a meeting that escalating violence risks “involving not only the other countries of the region, but also unpredictable consequences in various parts of the world.” The pope also tweeted the mantra of Pope Paul VI; “War never again.”

The pope is also letting his bishops speak pointedly to the issue. Warning of a global conflict, Bishop Mario Toso of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said a Western offensive in Syria would “contain all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions.” Many Bishops and dioceses are holding services for peace to raise the public opposition to a strike.

The Vatican may be more forceful than it was 10 years ago before the Iraq war, though the U.S. Administration may view Vatican comments as a caution, not a condemnation of war.

But presently, public sentiment in the U.S. is more anti-war than a decade ago after 9-11. Less than 30 percent favor military strikes in Syria. The Bishops may also feel bolder because they may welcome an opportunity to stake out a position on the political left rather than the usual political right.

“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify [himself] in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many…” Daniel 8:25

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