Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Thursday, February 11, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

Home : News : Nation and World
Syrians hold little hope for peace in Geneva II talks
Catholic News Service photo
A Syrian refugee boy carries wood in the al-Yamdiyeh refugee camp near the Syrian-Turkish border in Latakia province Jan. 10. Syria's nearly three-year civil war has led to what the U.N. calls the
Catholic News Service photo
A Syrian refugee boy carries wood in the al-Yamdiyeh refugee camp near the Syrian-Turkish border in Latakia province Jan. 10. Syria's nearly three-year civil war has led to what the U.N. calls the "greatest humanitarian crisis in modern history."
Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan — Raising olive branches, Christians from Catholic and Orthodox congregations crowded into a packed church in the Jordanian capital and sang the Lord's Prayer together in Arabic.

Although the prayer service the evening of Jan. 21 at the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral of St. Ephraim urged Christian unity, the violence raging next door in Syria and the plight of millions of displaced Syrians were foremost in people's minds.

"We pray for God's peace to reign in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and our region. We lift up our brothers and sisters," Syrian Orthodox Bishop Sawiris Malki Murad said.

"God is love. God is our life. Encourage Christians in Syria and throughout the Middle East in their faith as they face enormous difficulties and challenges," said the bishop, who is responsible for Syriac Orthodox Christians in Jordan and Jerusalem.

The plea came as minority Christian communities increasingly encounter threats, persecution and sometimes death in their ancient homelands as three years of upheavals that saw longtime rulers toppled in the Arab Spring uprisings reverberate.

The prayers were being offered, too, as peace talks between the warring sides in Syria's civil war opened in the Swiss town of Montreux after months of diplomatic wrangling. Dubbed Geneva II, the talks aim for a transitional government, an end to the violence and the delivery of badly needed humanitarian aid.

Syria's nearly three-year civil war has led to what the U.N. calls the "greatest humanitarian crisis in modern history." It said that by the end of 2013, more than 130,000 people, mostly civilians, were thought to have died and tens of thousands more had been arrested. More than 2.5 million Syrians are refugees and more than double that number need aid inside the country.

Jordan shelters about 600,000 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations, although the government puts the number at about 1 million. Tiny Lebanon hosts the most Syrians at more than 1 million.

Expectations among displaced Syrians for a peaceful outcome in Geneva were low, however.

"Of course, the Geneva II talks must happen. But how will the extremist groups threatening Christians and other Syrians inside the country be dealt with?" asked Abu Reda, who said he was Catholic.

Reda's extended family was forced to flee to Jordan after he and other members were threatened with death a few months ago by the Islamist al-Nusra Front warring against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Al-Qaida-linked groups such as the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq are not part of the Geneva talks largely because they have said they will not be bound by any agreement.

Church officials and rights groups say that many Christians have tried to remain neutral in Syria's conflict. But fighting continues to put pressure on the small Christian population, leading to fears that more Syrian Christians will join those who already have left the Middle East, noted the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

Other Syrian refugees said they are disillusioned and feel the talks will not see Assad removed. Indeed, the Syrian government has said that Assad will remain in power. The regime and its conference sponsor, Russia, seem bent on wanting to turn the talks into a meeting on how to fight terrorism.

Such a focus would fall short of dealing with what many say is Assad's responsibility for allowing Syria to descend into civil war by choosing a military solution over a negotiated settlement with peaceful protesters at the start of the uprising in March 2011.

The latter option was advocated by some high-level members of Assad's own government and political party as well as advisers such as Yahya al-Aridi, a former negotiator in Syrian peace talks with Israel and ex-faculty dean at Damascus University.

The U.S. and Russia, as the sponsors of Geneva II, "should exert a serious effort to end this catastrophic situation the Syrian people are going through ... stop the violence, and come to their rescue," said al-Aridi, who with his family fled to Jordan.

A report by international prosecutors released Jan. 20 said Syrian officials could face war crime charges based on pictures taken by a military police photographer who defected. The photographs, they said, show "industrial scale" torture and killings of 11,000 detainees by the Assad regime reminiscent of the starvation, strangulation and beatings in Nazi death camps in World War II Germany.

"One of the basic cards in the hands of the regime is violence and when this card is taken away, this terrorism talked about will end," added al-Aridi, who now teaches at the American University in Madaba, Jordan.

A member of Syria's minority Druze community, al-Aridi studied for his master's and doctorate degrees in linguistics and communications at Georgetown University. He said his experience at the Jesuit institution deeply affected his beliefs.

Jesuit Father Peter Balleis, international director of Jesuit Refugee Service, joined representatives from 25 humanitarian agencies Jan. 15 in appealing to Great Britain to open its doors to Syrians fleeing the violence. The agency leaders said it was unfair to Syria's neighbors to keep their borders open to refugees if other countries keep their own under lock and key.

Still, there are refugees in Jordan who believe that only force, not talks, will lead to Assad's ouster.

"Yes, Assad is still around, but he will be destroyed," said 15-year-old Khaled, a native of the southern town of Daraa, where the Syrian uprising began, who now works long hours hauling fruit and vegetables at an outdoor market in Amman.

"The day is coming when he will be removed," said the boy, who was forced to leave school to support 10 family members who fled to Jordan.

But for others like al-Aridi, the Geneva II meeting offers a glimmer of hope.

"If it fails," he warned, it will not only be at Syria's detriment, but this will be seen as "the failure of the international community and will also negatively impact the U.N." To be sure, he said, the suffering of millions of Syrians will continue and hopes for their future will further erode.

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved