A papal delegation of bishops, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, will travel to the capital of war-torn Syria in late October to show solidarity with victims and encourage peace negotiations.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, made the announcement Oct. 16 at the evening session of the world Synod of Bishops.
“In the certainty that the only possible solution to the crisis is a political solution, and bearing in mind the immense suffering of the population, the fate of displaced persons, and the future of that nation, it has been suggested that our synodal assembly express its solidarity,” Cardinal Bertone said.
Syria’s civil war has left thousands dead and has displaced hundreds of thousands of refugees since March 2011.
The cardinal said that Pope Benedict XVI had instructed a delegation of six bishops and a priest to express, on behalf of the pope and the synod: “our fraternal solidarity with the entire population”; “our spiritual closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters”; and “our encouragement to all those involved in seeking an agreement that respects the rights and duties of all, with particular attention to the demands of humanitarian law.”
Cardinal Bertone gave no date for the trip, but said it would take place the following week, after completion of the “necessary formalities” with the papal nuncio and the “local authorities” in Damascus.
Read the complete list of cardinals and more here.
Meantime, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, the head of CRS, explains the purpose and meaning behind the trip in the video below.