VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis urged the Group of 20 leaders Thursday to abandon the "futile pursuit" of a military solution in Syria as the Vatican laid out its case for a negotiated settlement that guarantees rights for all minorities, including Christians.
In a letter Thursday to the G-20 host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Francis lamented that "one-sided interests" had prevailed in Syria, preventing a diplomatic end to the conflict and allowing the continued "senseless massacre" of innocents.
"To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution," Francis wrote as the G-20 meeting got under way in St. Petersburg.
Francis has ratcheted up his call for peace in Syria amid threatened U.S.-led military strikes after an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
He will host a peace vigil in St. Peter's Square on Saturday, a test of whether his immense popular appeal will translate into popular support for his peace message.