Pope cancels peace mission to Syria, sends envoy and aid to Lebanon
The Vatican has cancelled plans to send a peace mission to Syria, Pope Benedict XVI said on Wednesday, announcing he had instead sent an envoy to neighbouring Lebanon to meet with Syrian religious leaders and bring aid to refugees, dpa reported.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, who heads the Vatican's charity department, will stay in Lebanon through Saturday, Benedict said in an address to pilgrims in Rome.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Sarah will bring 1 million dollars in aid, including a "significant personal contribution" from the pope.
"It was my wish to send a delegation ... to Damascus to express my solidarity and that of all the (Catholic) Church to the people of Syria and our spiritual closeness to the Christian communities in the country," Benedict said.
"Unfortunately, several circumstances and developments have not made it possible to pursue the initiative in the way foreseen."
The pope's initiative, announced in mid-October, had already been postponed once because of the worsening violence in the conflict-torn country.