Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Oct. 22 that the Holy See is still studying the situation in Syria and is preparing to send a peace delegation, despite violence related to the ongoing conflict spilling over into Lebanon and Jordan.
In a brief statement made public today, Fr. Lombardi explained that the delegation would leave “as soon as possible” and that the planning for the mission is still ongoing.
The Vatican's aim, he said, is to “respond effectively to the proposed objectives of solidarity, peace and reconciliation, in spite of the serious acts that recently took place in the region.”
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said when he announced the initiative on Oct. 16 that the delegation would be leaving for Syria this week, but Fr. Lombardi’s announcement appears to postpone the departure date.
Fighting between rebels and the Syrian government has killed an estimated 33,000 people.
Syria’s Christians tend to support the government, given the fate they expect to suffer if Islamists take control. Rebels have targeted Christians, bombing several churches and driving tens of thousands of them from their homes.
Lakhdar Brahimi, a peace envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League, is presently touring the region to try to find a solution to the conflict. He arrived in Lebanon Oct. 17 after visiting Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq.
In addition to Cardinal Dolan, the delegation will include Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Bishop Fabio Suescun Mutis, military ordinary of Colombia; and Bishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Phat Diem, Vietnam.
Vatican officials in the delegation include Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, and Msgr. Alberto Ortega of the Secretariat of State.