A "globalization of indifference" has taken hold of too many of the world's people, numbing them to the horrifying reality faced by the people of Syria and other innocent victims of war and violence around the world, Pope Francis said.
With the Syrian conflict continuing for more than three years, "there is a risk of becoming used to it" and forgetting that people are dying there each day, the pope said May 30 in a message to participants at a Vatican-hosted meeting for Catholic aid agencies.
The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable activity, brought together two dozen Catholic relief and development agencies that are working in Syria or with Syrian refugees. The meeting was designed to help them work together more efficiently and reach more people in need.
Announcing the meeting, Cor Unum said that, according to the most recent data, about 160,000 people have died since fighting began in Syria in March 2011, some 6 million people are displaced within Syria and more than 2 million Syrians have fled the country, most finding refuge in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
In his message to the Catholic charities, Francis expressed his "great sadness" that the Syrian conflict continues, creating "unspeakable suffering and thousands of refugees, including the elderly and children, who suffer and sometimes die of hunger and war-related illnesses."
The work of Catholic charities is "a faithful expression of God's love for his children who find themselves in situations of oppression and anguish," the pope said. "God hears their cries, knows the sufferings and wants to free them."
Francis praised the Catholic charities for lending God "your hands and your abilities" in order to help "all the victims of the war without distinction of ethnicity, religion or social group."
Once again, Francis pleaded with the warring parties to guarantee emergency humanitarian assistance, to put down their weapons and make a commitment to dialogue.