Sep 9, 2013 1:44 AM by Erika Flores

Arizona bishops call for peaceful solution to Syria conflict

SIERRA VISTA-Local religious leaders are weighing in on the debate in Syria.

Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference sent Arizona lawmakers a letter expressing their concern over potential military action in Syria.

Arizona bishops urged them not to resort to military intervention but instead work to end the violence through negotiations.

Bishop Kicanas said Arizona bishops are all in agreement that solving violence with violence just isn't the answer.

Instead, he said it is the United Nation's responsibility to find ways other than military intervention to solve the conflict in Syria.

As Bishop Kicanas preached to parishioners at St. Andrews the Apostle Catholic Church Sunday night, he passionately expressed his view on the conflict in Syria.

Arizona bishops sent a letter to Congress asking them not to support military intervention.

"It's already a tragedy, and to exercise military intervention at this point could only unleash further violence which will not be helpful in realizing what needs to be realized and that is a negotiated solution to this situation," said Bishop Kicanas.

Parishioners applauded as Bishop Kicanas called for a peaceful solution.

"Hopefully we can come together at the table and solve the problem without going to war," said parishioner Chuck Haith.

Members of Congress have been speaking out about the possibility of military intervention.

"I think the access between Syria and Iran, the capacity for chemical weapons and ultimately nuclear weapons with Iran and the security of our allies, Jordan and Israel, which ultimately involves our national security, is the reason we should act," said Representative Peter King.

This is the letter Arizona bishops sent to Congress:

September 6, 2013

Dear Senator/Representative:

As Catholic bishops we are praying for you as you take up the debate regarding the use of military force in Syria. We wish to offer our perspective as pastors of our Dioceses and your constituents.

The use of chemical weapons by any nation is morally reprehensible. The use in Syria has led to many deaths and intense suffering.

With you we mourn for the lives lost in so tragic a way and grieve with the families of the deceased. One hundred thousand Syrians in this civil war have lost their lives. Two million have fled the country as refugees, and more than 4 million within Syria have been driven from their homes by the violence. This tragedy cannot continue. We ought not to fuel violence but seek a negotiated resolution. We ought to learn from the Iraq tragedy that rushing to conclusions without clear evidence can have disastrous consequences.

We have heard the urgent calls of Pope Francis, and our suffering brother bishops of the venerable and ancient Christian communities of the Middle East. They have begged the family of nations not to resort to military intervention in Syria. We join our voice to theirs. We believe a military attack will be counterproductive, could exacerbate the situation, and could have negative unforeseen consequences.

We call on you as members of our Congressional delegation to urge the President to seek a negotiated political settlement. We believe that more lives and livelihoods will be destroyed by military intervention. On this question Pope Francis has been clear: "How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed!"

The longstanding position of our Conference of Bishops is that the Syrian people urgently need a political solution. We ask you to work with the President and Congress to engage other governments to obtain a ceasefire in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.

Please be assured of our prayers

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Gerald Dino
Bishop of Holy Protection
of Mary Byzantine Catholic
Eparchy of Phoenix

Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Holy Protection Bishop of Tucson

Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. James S. Wall
Bishop of Gallup


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