The appeals of Pope Francis to President Putin and the other world leaders at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg have made headlines in much of the media. You can read the full text of Pope Francis’ letter here. Below are my highlights/comments.
The world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places.
Pope Francis’ letter can be described as both pro-life and pro-economic growth. These two points should not be seen as contradictory. The culture of death necessarily leads to the destruction of persons, societal structures, culture, and wealth. Sin, in whatever form, always leads toward disintegration. This inconvenient truth shows how the teachings of the Church (which aim towards the holiness of individuals) aim to reinforce the good of nations. The Holy Father connects peace in Syria to the financial mindset of the world leaders. Put simply: love builds up and unties, while sin destroys and divides. More love = better people = more peace = better economies.
Armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “we’re all in this together.” Well, on a global level this is true because of our common humanity and woundedness from Original Sin. Anything that attacks our harmony should be avoided because deep divisions and vast inequalities create resentment among brothers. It takes time and effort to forge something good, but little time and ill-will to destroy those same goods.
Violence never begets peace
Our Lord says, “every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). We should follow Pope Francis’ call for dialogue and reconciliation if we want more peace.
The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace. To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.
Pope Francis speaks boldly to the international community because he sees Christ suffering in each of the gruesome photos to come out of Syria. In addition to the photos, which often serve to sentimentalize a political aim, Pope Francis considers the unheard cries of minorities in Syria. Foremost among the minority groups in the entire Middle East are Christians–Christians who have little defense in a hostile world.
I encourage everyone to join with Pope Francis in offering a sacrifice of prayer and fasting to God for peace in Syria.
Pray the Rosary.