Last updated: 16 October, 2012

Pope to send a delegation to Damascus

Pope Benedict XVI will send a delegation to the Syrian capital to “express his brotherly solidarity with the entire population”, the Vatican said Tuesday.

“We cannot be mere spectators to the tragedy taking place in Syria,” the Holy See’s number two official, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said during a global synod of Catholic bishops at the Vatican.

In remarks broadcast by Vatican Radio, Bertone said the delegation would likely travel to Damascus next week, adding that the bishops supported the pope’s decision.

The delegation will include Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York; Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya, the archbishop of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa; and the Vatican’s top officials for foreign affairs and inter-religious dialogue.

It will also include top Church officials from countries that have undergone conflicts of their own, such as Colombia and Vietnam.

“Convinced that the solution to the crisis can only be political, and thinking of the immense suffering of the population, the fate of refugees and the future of the nation, some of us have suggested that our synod assembly can express its solidarity,” Bertone said.