Pope pleas on behalf of civilians in Aleppo as bombing intensifies

IMAGE: CNS photo/Abdalrhman Ismail, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As a brief cease-fire agreement failed
and Syrian government forces returned to bombing Aleppo and fighting rebels in
the city streets, Pope Francis made a forceful appeal for assistance for the
thousands of innocent civilians trapped in the besieged city.

“I appeal to the consciences of those responsible for
the bombardments,” Pope Francis said at the end of his weekly general
audience Sept. 28. “They will have to account to God!”

Dozens of civilians were reportedly killed by the
bombardments in late September and the U.N. World Food Program said it was
“extremely concerned about the more than 250,000 people trapped in eastern
Aleppo city who are cut off from food, water, medicine and other essential

Pope Francis told people gathered for his general audience
that his thoughts and prayers were going “to the beloved and martyred
Syria. I continue to receive dramatic news about the fate of Aleppo’s

Expressing his “profound pain and deep concern for what
is happening in this already martyred city,” the pope told people that it
is a place where death strikes “children, the elderly, the sick, young
people, old people, everyone.”

“I renew my appeal that everyone make a commitment with
all their strength to the protection of civilians as a mandatory and urgent
obligation,” the pope said.

Pope Francis spoke as representatives of dozens of Catholic
charitable organizations and leaders of Catholic communities in Syria and Iraq
were arriving in Rome for a Sept. 29 meeting to coordinate Catholic emergency
and humanitarian assistance to the victims of war, displaced people and
refugees in the region.

Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso from the Pontifical Council Cor
Unum, which coordinates Catholic charitable giving, said the Catholic Church
and Catholic charities have 12,000 workers trying to provide care for people in
Syria, Iraq and neighboring countries.

“Just in Syria the victims of the war, according to
U.N. data, already exceed 270,000,” he said. More than 8.7 million Syrians
have been forced from their homes and some 3.4 million Iraqis are still

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