The world is groping with the horrors of violence in Syria and the challenge of responsibility on the shoulders of the International community. That responsibility however has to be well-thought out. We can not forget too quick the Iraqi experience. The most outstanding pretext for invading Iraq (possession of weapons of weapons of mass destruction) turned out to be unsubstantiated till date. This is the more reason why the call of Pope Francis for caution and exploration of other possible options is most important. It is a repeat of the same caution that John Paul II had made before the Iraq war which, rather than bringing a time of peace for the people, has turned out to be an unending nightmare for the Iraqi nation. Caution.
Here is an excerpt from the Vatican Insider on Francis’ message
On Sunday morning it became obvious that the Pope was going to make a serious and important announcement during the Angelus prayer. The text was not distributed to journalists under embargo beforehand as usual. Each word contained in Francis’ appeal for peace in Syria was probably thought out and no one knew what was going to be said right up until the Pope himself started speaking. Such a serious and dramatic declaration on the war had not been heard since John Paul II’s Angelus on Sunday 16 March 2003, just before the Iraq war began. After holding a day of fasting and prayer for peace in the Middle East on 5 March, after he had made every diplomatic effort possible and personally met with numerous heads of State and sent ambassadors to Washington and Baghdad, the ill and frail Wojtyla made one final attempt to stop British and American intervention in Iraq.
Although the war was over within a few weeks, it plunged the country into chaos and instability, the effects of which can still be seen today, ten years later. John Paul II urged the “political leaders of Baghdad” to fulfil their “urgent duty to collaborate fully with the international community to eliminate every reason for armed intervention.” But he also reminded the UN’s member States, particularly those “which make up the Security Council, that the use of force represents the last recourse, after having exhausted every other peaceful solution, in keeping with the well-known principles of the UN Charter.
In a statement which today seems so prophetic in its farsighted realism, he added: “in the face of the tremendous consequences that an international military operation would have for the population of Iraq and for the balance of the Middle East region, already sorely tried, and for the extremisms that could stem from it, I say to all: There is still time to negotiate; there is still room for peace it is never too late to come to an understanding and to continue discussions. To reflect on one’s duties, to engage in energetic negotiations does not mean to be humiliated, but to work with responsibility for peace.” Pope Wojtyla looked up from the printed sheets resting on the glass lectern and spoke off the cuff: “I belong to that generation that lived through World War II and, thanks be to God, survived it. I have the duty to say to all young people, to those who are younger than I, who have not had this experience: “No more war”.
culled from the Vatican Insider, Wednesday Sept. 3, 2013.