Pope Francis wants ‘holistic approach’ to Middle East, UN Security Council told

New York City, N.Y., Jan 23, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis is concerned about the worsening situation in the Middle East, and is urging a continued commitment to dialogue in the region, a senior Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Security Council Wednesday. 

Monsignor Fredrik Hansen, chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN spoke during an open debate at the Security Council on Jan. 22, relaying the Pope’s concerns over the still ongoing crises in Syria, Yemen, and the Holy Land.

“It is of the utmost importance that the support and the commitment of the international community keep the flame of dialogue alive and that these challenges be addressed with a holistic approach,” said Hansen. 

Pope Francis has called for “steadfast and effective engagement,” Hansen said, in order to counteract what he termed “the pall of silence that risks falling over the war that has devastated Syria over the course of the last decade.”

Syria is in need of “suitable and far-sighted solutions” in order to assist the “beloved Syrian people” to rebuild their country and experience peace once again. 

According to the Vatican diplomat, Pope Francis is concerned about the continued “silence and indifference” on the situation in Yemen, “one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent history,” saying that lack of international attention could allow further suffering and loss of life.

Hansen also relayed that the Holy See is continuing to advocate for the status quo policy of Jerusalem, which concerns the state of shared religious sites between Christian denominations as well as those shared with the Islamic and Jewish religions. 

“Indeed, the appeal to maintain the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem, dear to Jews, Christians and Muslims in virtue of their religion and important for the cultural heritage of the whole human family, is one that has been repeatedly made,” said Hansen. 

Pope Francis, he said, wishes for Jerusalem to live out “its vocation as a city of peace,” which can be a symbolic location of peace and encounter, with respect between religions and continued dialogue. 

Hansen remarked that earlier this month, Pope Francis called for the international community to recommit to the peace process between Israel and Palestine. 

“What Pope Francis recently stated with regard to Israel and Palestine could apply to the wider region, and indeed across the world,” said Hansen, noting that it is nearly the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ founding but, despite its goals, peace and security remains a worldwide concern. 

The Holy See has a “steadfast commitment to peace and support for all initiatives that strive to ensure the placement of negotiated solutions,” said Hansen. 

“To this end, the Holy See encourages all parties to promote open and constructive dialogue based on the principles upon which this organization was built 75 years ago.”

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