Pope Benedict XVI will send an official delegation to Syria next week to express the Catholic Church's "solidarity" with Christians in the region and call for an end to the civil war, the Vatican said on Wednesday, dpa reported.
The decision was announced Tuesday by the Vatican's second-highest official, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, during the synod, an ongoing bishops' meeting in Rome. His speech was distributed on the following day.
"We cannot be mere spectators of a tragedy such as the one that is unfolding in Syria," Bertone said, adding that "the only possible solution to the crisis is a political solution."
"The Holy Father has thus ordered that, in coming days, a delegation travel to Damascus," Bertone said.
The pope had expressed his concerns about Syria and the plight of Christians in the Middle East during an official visit to Lebanon last month.
The Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is responsible for inter-religious dialogue, will be part of the seven-member delegation.