The leader of the Catholic order of priests known as the Jesuits accused both the United States and France of “abuse of power,” for threatening to use military action in Syria. The Spanish-born Fr. General Adolfo Nicolás echoed his solidarity with Pope Francis’ call for prayer and fasting on September 7 for peace in Syria. Saying that he cannot keep silent in the face of American intervention in the Syrian civil war, Nicolás said "I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure."

In the interview with the UK-based  Independent Catholic News, Nicolás addressed the fundamental problems with the proposed military intervention. Speaking to the idea that the world has a responsibility to take action against the abuse of power (e.g. Syrian President Bashr Assad’s alleged use of poison gas on Aug.21), he likened U.S. intervention to "the big boy of the neighbourhood" who abuses and bullies weaker members of the community. He also expressed concern about the lack of concrete information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, while he worried about the effect the proposed “limited” and “narrow” intervention envisioned by President Barack Obama would have upon "the ordinary innocent and poor people" of Syria. “Violence and violent action”,  said Nicolás, “like what is being planned, have to always be the last resort and administered in such a way that only the guilty are affected.”

Along these lines, Nicolás warned that means being considered to punish the perpetrators of violence must not “harm the very victims of the original abuse, once it has been proved to exist. Past experience teaches us that this is practically impossible (even if we call the victims "collateral damage") and the results increase the suffering of the ordinary innocent and poor people.”

Saying that he holds no animosity towards the U.S., which is a country that he admires very much, Nicolás said, “What disturbs me most now is that precisely this country I respect so much is at the point of doing such a terrible mistake.” Saying that this goes for France as well, Nicolás warned  “That two such Countries would come together for such an outrageous measure is part of the world´s anger. We are not afraid of the attack; we are afraid of the barbarism to which we are being led.”

Nicolás said "the danger is now," as the U.S. amasses naval vessels off the shores of Syria that are capable of unleashing armed drones, cruise missiles and aircraft.  Nicolás said that the U.S. needs to convince the world of the necessity of the planned attack, while he suggested that there are already some observers who have suggested that there are ulterior motives for the military action.

Currently, the Society of Jesus ‘the Jesuits’ is the largest men's single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. As of 2013, there were 17,287 Jesuits worldwide, including priests, novices and student-priests. However, their numbers have been in decline since the 1960s, having been at the level of 30,000 worldwide.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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