Taking sides in Syria conflict ‘unreasonable,’ bishop says

Lincoln, Neb., Sep 9, 2013 / 10:08 am (CNA).- Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln says that a solution to the violence in Syria must be achieved, not through more violence or “taking sides” with one of the warring factions, but by speaking the truth “boldly.”

“I am not a politician, or a military strategist. I am only a pastor,” he wrote in a Sept. 7 column. “But I know we cannot solve the violence of Syria with more violence.”

On the occasion of the Pope’s call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, Bishop Conley referred to an ancient Syrian legend about a monk who tamed a dragon that was blinded with rage.

Realizing that defense against the dragon would only provoke more rage, Simeon the monk calmed the dragon by speaking “truth, boldly, and with compassion.”

Again, the bishop said, Syria “seems to be fighting blind dragons again” as “dictators” and “thugs masquerading as democratic reformers” steep the country in “corruption beyond the rules of war.”

“The country’s problems are real, and interminable. Real people are suffering,” he said, adding that in the past months more than 100,000 people have been killed with Christians and other religious minorities “bearing the brunt of Syria’s violence.”

“The attacks on Christians are unprovoked—but the rage of Syria’s dragons, in the government and among the opposition, seems to know no bounds,” he said.

However, “to choose sides in a conflict where no side can be trusted is unreasonable.”

Rather than “adding to the violence,” we must find a clear solution to the civil war by speaking the truth “with conviction.”

“We must insist on an end to the systematic persecution of Christians, and to violent attacks on women, children, and minorities.”

Bishop Conley offered a reminder of Pope Francis’ world day of prayer and fasting in Syria, saying that “prayer effects real change.”

He encouraged readers to continue offering prayers that would “calm the blind, raging, intemperate dragons of Syria.”

To read Bishop Conley’s full column, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=2669.

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