Pope pained by Syria violence, calls for religious communities to cooperate

Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his sadness at the recent massacre in the Syrian city of Houla that killed more than 100 people including 49 children. (Reuters)
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday called for religious communities in Syria to cooperate to bring peace to the violence-wracked country.

He said he was pained by the recent massacre in Syria that killed more than 100 people including 49 children.

“This massacre causes pain and profound preoccupation to the Holy Father and the Catholic community as a whole,” the Vatican’s spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

“The Holy See renews its call for a cessation of all forms of violence and exhorts interested parties and the entire international community to spare no effort to resolve the crisis by dialogue and reconciliation,” he said.

“Leaders and believers of different religions are called to promote peace through prayer and mutual cooperation,” he added.

At least 108 people were killed in Syria’s central town of Houla on Friday and Saturday, among them 49 children and 34 women, many blown to bits or shot dead at point blank range.

It marked the most shocking and one of the deadliest single events of violence since the start of the uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The uprising has left more than 13,000 people dead, according to rights groups.