Washington D.C., - As President Trump
considers airstrikes in Syria in response to
a chemical attack that killed dozens of
people, including women and children, Pope
Francis has called for peace in the region.
President Trump has said that he will
consider initiating military action against
Syria within days. The president has sent
several tweets hinting at iminent military
action, but on Thursday he walked these back
with a tweet saying he “never said” when the
United States would be attacking.
“Could be very soon or not so soon at
all,” said Trump, noting that the United
States has done a “great job” at removing
Islamic State militants from the country.
On Tuesday, Russia vetoed a US-sponsored
proposal in the United Nations, which would
have launched an independent investigation
into the April 7 chemical attack. The veto
garnered broad condemnation from US allies.
Russia has also said that its military
will retaliate for any airstrikes against
Syria, meaning that US-military action could
prompt a large global conflict.
Since March of 2011, Syria has been
engaged in a bloody civil war, with rebel
groups engaged in conflict against the
Syrian army. Syria, led by President Bashar
al-Assad, is allied with Hezbollah, Iran,
The situation on the ground in Syria has
been disastrous for the country’s tiny
Christian population. Prior to the start of
the war, Christians made up about 11 percent
of the population. Since then, many have
been forced from their homes, particularly
when the Islamic State was active in the
region, and many of the country’s churches
have been destroyed in the war. An estimated
one-third of the country's Christian
population has fled.
However, many Christians in the country
find themselves supporting Assad’s regime.
In a March 2016 interview, Aleppo's Catholic
Bishop Antoine Audo said that he believed a
full “80 percent” of the country’s
Christians would support Assad in an
election. Furthermore, the bishop said that
the Syrian government was not actively
persecuting Christians, and that Christians
and Muslims had for years lived together
peacefully prior to the start of the war.
The rebel groups fighting Assad are
mostly Islamic-based and have attacked
There have been at least 200 reported
chemical attacks in Syria, the medical care
group UOSSM has reported. In April 2017, at
least 70 people, including children, were
reportedly killed in Syria by a deadly gas
attack, reportedly perpetrated by Assad’s
“The chemical attack in Syria on April 4,
, shocks the soul. The many innocent
lives targeted by these terrible tools of
war cry out for humanity’s protection,”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said
last year in response to that attack.
During his April 1 Urbi et Orbi message,
Pope Francis prayed for peace in Syria.
“We implore fruits of peace upon the
entire world, beginning with the beloved and
long-suffering land of Syria, whose people
are worn down by an apparently endless war.
This Easter, may the light of the risen
Christ illumine the consciences of all
political and military leaders, so that a
swift end may be brought to the carnage in
course,” the pontiff said.
The pope condemned the recent chemical
attack during Mass April 8 in St. Peter’s
Square, saying that “nothing can justify”
the use of chemical weapons on “defenseless
people and populations.”
“There is no such thing as a good war and
a bad war,” he said.