Vatican City, 20 July 2012 (VIS) – “For many months now the Church and the entire international community have been looking with great apprehension and profound sadness at the escalating violence in Syria, where arms seem to have taken the place of dialogue”.

These are the opening words of a declaration concerning the situation in Syria, issued yesterday afternoon by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and signed by Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary; Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl of the Latins, Poland, respectively president and vice presidents of the CCEE.

“We hope that the authorities in the country, the population and all believers of whatever religion may look to God and find the way to put an end to hostilities, set aside their arms and start down the path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace. The conflict cannot but lead to mourning, destruction and serious consequences for the noble people of Syria. War is a dead end. Happiness can be achieved only by acting together, never by the abusive exercise of power of one side against another”, the text reads.

“The coming days could prove decisive for the outcome of this crisis. Therefore we exhort all the Christians of Europe to redouble their prayers for peace in that region. Our faith leads us to hope that a constructive solution to the crisis is possible, one which respects the interests of all sides. It is important to rediscover space for a dialogue of peace; and it is never too late to understand one another, to negotiate and to build a shared future together.

“We are certain that, with God’s help, good sense may prevail and lead to peaceful coexistence in truth, justice, love and freedom, and in respect for all monitories, particularly the Christians in the country”.