By Elise Ann Ellen, originally published by CRUX
ROME – Ten years after Syria’s bloody civil war began, most of the fighting is now over. Yet the country is now facing a massive economic, social, and humanitarian crisis in which rampant poverty is the next major battle it faces.
Referring to the March 15 anniversary of the start of the Syrian civil war, Pope Francis in his Sunday Angelus address said the decade-long conflict “has caused one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of our time.”
In the past 10 years, the war has caused “an unknown number of dead and wounded, millions of refugees, thousands of disappeared, destruction, violence of every kind and immense suffering for the entire population, especially the most vulnerable, such as children, women and the elderly,” he said.
Francis urged all parties involved in the war “to show signs of goodwill, so that a glimpse of hope can open up for the exhausted population,” and asked for “a decided and renewed commitment, constructive and supportive,” on the part of the international community, “so that, having laid down their arms, we can mend the social fabric and begin reconstruction and economic recovery.”
The pope then led pilgrims in praying a Hail Mary for suffering to end and hope to be revived in “beloved and martyred Syria.”