Pope Francis Begs for ‘Immediate Ceasefire’ in Syria to Evacuate Civilians

On Wednesday, Pope Francis begged for an “immediate ceasefire” in Syria, calling for “at least” a truce to allow civilians, especially children, to be evacuated.

Responding to the intense air assault raining down on Aleppo, Francis pleaded with leaders to call an immediate cessation to hostilities after his weekly General Audience in Saint Peter’s Square.

“I wish to stress and reiterate my solidarity with all victims of inhuman conflict in Syria,” the Pope said. “It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging those responsible, with all my strength, so that steps be taken for an immediate ceasefire.”

Francis said that the truce should be imposed and respected “at least for the time necessary to allow the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under the bloody bombings.”

The Pope has been an outspoken advocate for peace in Syria. On Sunday, he announced that Archbishop Mario Zenari, his personal envoy in Syria, will be made a cardinal at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy next month. Zenari reportedly has won the pontiff’s admiration for stubbornly refusing to abandon his post despite the many hardships and dangers brought by the ongoing armed conflict.

Two years ago, when asked whether he would leave Syria, Zenari replied, “How could a representative of the pope flee the place where they need him most?”

“For me this mission is a privilege given to me by God, and it’s a very touching experience on the human level,” he said.

According to veteran Vatican analyst John Allen, in making Zenari a cardinal, Francis is “clearly expressing his solidarity and support for the people of Syria struggling with the fallout from their ongoing war.”

In Sunday’s announcement, Francis referred to Zenari as his envoy to “beloved and martyred Syria.”

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