Syrian Catholic leaders criticize US missile strikesJust days after it suggested that the world would have to get used to the idea of President Bashar al-Assad as a negotiating partner in Syria, the Trump administration abruptly switched direction on April 6.
Apr 13, 2017
By Kevin Clarke
Just days after it suggested that the world would have to get used to the idea of President Bashar al-Assad as a negotiating partner in Syria, the Trump administration abruptly switched direction on April 6. As images of the aftermath of an apparent nerve-gas attack on civilians in rebel-held Idlib province generated outrage around the world, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that “with the acts that he has taken, it will seem that there would be no role for (Mr Assad) to govern the Syrian people.” Later that evening, the United States launched a punitive strike on the Syrian air base where it alleged the chemical weapons attack originated.
President Donald J. Trump had given the go-ahead for a barrage of cruise missiles, careful to avoid the possibility of Russian casualties, who had been forewarned. The facility was badly damaged; the Syrian government reports the deaths of nine civilians, including four children, when projectiles hit the base and nearby villages. Others were injured.
Two prominent Catholic leaders in Syria criticised the US missile strikes. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan described the strike as an act of aggression. He told Catholic News Service: “It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made.
“Global media and the supremacist policy of the USA just want the killing and destroying conflict in Syria to continue, and this, primarily, to kill whatever attempt to resolve the bloody crisis,” Patriarch Younan added.
Bishop Georges Khazen, who serves Latin-rite Catholics in Aleppo, told the Rome-based Fides news agency that he was baffled by “the speed with which it was decided and carried out, without adequate investigation into the tragic massacre with chemical weapons which took place in Idlib province.”
He said the attack “opens new disturbing scenarios for all.”
The UN children’s agency reports that at least 27 children were among the more than 80 people killed in the suspected chemical attack in northern Syria. UNICEF said another 546 people, including many children, were wounded in Tuesday’s attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, and that casualty figures are expected to rise.
The US strike is likely to only briefly hold back the Assad regime from the next outrage. The morning after the missile attack, in fact, Russian officials quickly recommitted the Russian Federation to its ally in Syria, accusing the United States of violating international law and promising to repair the demolished air facility and to help the Assad regime beef up Syria’s air-defence capabilities.
Explaining his about-face on Syria to the nation, Mr Trump said, “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.
No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” the president said.
The president’s altered tone in this brief address was noted by a number of media commentators, especially a rhetorical shift appended to the usual end-of-statement boilerplate “God bless America” — the words, “and the entire world.” --America Magazine
Third Sunday of Easter: Word and Sacrament
It is important that we have bibles, and pray with our bibles, but we have been given a gift that is greater than even our bibles. We have been given the gift of the Eucharist.