Pope Francis has asked leaders of the world's 20 largest economies to 'lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution' to the Syrian civil war and promote instead a 'peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation,' reports the Catholic News Service.
The Pope's words appeared in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, from September 5-6. The letter was dated September 4 and released by the Vatican the following day, as US lawmakers prepared to vote on President Barack Obama's proposal for a military attack on Syria.
Also yestedday, the Pope's foreign minister met with ambassadors to underscore the Vatican's concerns over the war, including the fate of Syria's Christian minority and the danger posed by extremists among opponents to the government of President Bashar Assad.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, a civil war between Assad's government and rebel forces has killed more than 100,000 people, driven two million refugees out of Syria and displaced more than four million inside the country.
Obama has called for military strikes to punish the government, which the US blames for an August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that reportedly killed more than 1,400 people, including children.
In his letter to Putin, Pope Francis wrote that, 'from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and, in fact, hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.'
Pope calls on G20 leaders to avoid military solution in Syria (Vatican Insider)