Pope declares September 7 a day of worldwide prayer for peace in Syria
CWN - September 02, 2013
Pope Francis has called upon all the faithful worldwide to join in a day of prayer and fasting of September 7 for peace in the Middle East, and especially in Syria.
At his Angelus audience on Sunday, September 1, the Pope announced his plans for the day of prayer, to be held on “the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.” He called all Catholics to join in the prayer and fasting, and issued an invitation to “each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”
In Rome, the Pope announced, the day of prayer will conclude with a vigil in St. Peter’s Square, from 7 pm until midnight, praying for peace. He asked local dioceses to arrange similar gatherings. “Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!” the Pope said.
“All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace,” the Pope said in his powerful statement to his midday audience. He said that he is troubled by conflicts all around the world, “but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.”
“How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed!” the Pope said.
“With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons,” Pope Francis said, saying that such offenses incur the “inescapable” judgment of God and of history.
At the same time the Pope signaled clearly that he would oppose a US-led military intervention. “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake,” he said. “War begets war, violence begets violence.”
“With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience,” the Pope said. He exhorted international leaders to promote efforts toward peaceful negotiations. He also encouraged humanitarian aid to the innocent victims of the conflict.
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