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The bishop of Aleppo, Syria, has cautioned that foreign military action in the country could spark a global war, making the “tragic situation” much worse.
“The only road to peace is dialogue,” said Bishop Antoine Audo on Aug. 27. “War will not take us anywhere.”
“People live in anguish, not knowing what awaits them, and this has been happening during the two years of conflict,” he told Missionary International Service News Agency.
The bishop of Aleppo, one of the cities worst affected by the turmoil, is also the president of Caritas Syria.
He spoke amid escalating international discussions of how to respond to reported chemical weapons attacks in the country.
On Aug. 26, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was “undeniable” that chemical weapons had been used in an attack on civilians outside of Damascus five days earlier.
“I have seen thousands of civilian victims of the violence,” Bishop Audo said. “We are in need of someone that brings us hope for peace, not a new charge of hatred.”
He stressed that “if there is will, dialogue is always possible, even in the darkest situations.”
“Even in Syria there are alternatives to war,” he said.
In a separate interview with Vatican Radio, Bishop Audo warned, “If there were a military intervention, in my opinion this means world war.”
He echoed Pope Francis’ call for “true dialogue between the different parties of the conflict in order to find a solution.”
The “clear” and “direct” words of Pope Francis “give confidence to all of us who are now here, especially in Aleppo, in a very difficult situation,” Bishop Audo said. “The Holy Father’s message is very appreciated by a large part of the population.”