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Vatican abandons delegation to Syria


VATICAN ( The Vatican has dropped plans announced on October 17 by Pope Benedict XVI during the Synod of Bishops to send a special papal mission to Syria, saying that it would be too dangerous in light of the escalating conflict there. 

However, within a week, the Vatican secretary of state, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, admitted that the trip had been postponed because of the turmoil in Syria.

On November 7, Pope Benedict conceded that “due to a variety of circumstances and developments, it was not possible to carry out this initiative as planned.”

He announced that in lieu of the larger delegation he was sending Robert Cardinal Sarah, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to Lebanon, where he will confer with Church leaders from Syria, meet with refugees from the fighting and chair a meeting of relief agencies involved in humanitarian missions to Syria. 

At his weekly public audience on November 7 the pope said that he continues to follow events in Syria with great concern. He renewed his appeal to all parties to enter into negotiations rather than continue the violence. “It is never too late to work for peace!”

Vatican officials confirmed that the original plans for a high-level papal delegation had been abandoned because of concerns that the mission could complicate the delicate political situation in Syria and the bishops themselves could be at risk during the trip.


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