Pope Benedict XVI Saddened Over Massacre in Houla

Urges Cooperation from International Community to End Violence in Syria

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See today condemned the recent massacre in the Syrian town of Houla which resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people including 49 children.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, expressed the Pope’s worry and distress over the attack.

“In renewing its call for the cessation of all forms of violence, the Holy See urges the parties concerned and the international community to spare no effort to resolve the crisis through dialogue and reconciliation,” he said.

In response to the continued bloodshed of innocent civilians, the governments of Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain and Canada have expelled Syrian diplomats in their countries. Syria has been in a state of conflict since 2011 in opposition to the presidency of Bashar al-Assad and the ruling Ba’ath party. Violence has increased throughout the year, and thousands have died in the conflict.

The Holy See has also called upon religious leaders in Syria to cooperate in bringing an end to violence in Syria. “The leaders and believers of different religions, too, though prayer and mutual collaboration, are called to make great efforts to promote the longed-for peace, for the good of the whole population”, Lombardi said.