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Pope's prayer campaign for peace in Syria

Catholic World News - September 09, 2013

Pope Francis led over 100,000 people in a vigil of prayer for peace in Syria on Saturday evening, September 7. He repeated his urgent plea for peace at his Angelus audience the next day.

“What is the point of fighting wars, many wars, if you are not capable of fighting this deeper war against evil?” the Pope asked the crowd at his Sunday Angelus audience. “There’s no point!”

During that midday audience the Pope commented on the day’s Gospel in which Jesus spoke about kings preparing for war. “Here Jesus doesn’t want to discuss war; it is only a parable,” the Pope said. “But at this moment in time, when we are praying intensely for peace, this Word of the Lord affects us profoundly, and fundamentally it says: there’s a deeper war we must fight, all of us! It is the strong and brave decision to renounce evil and its seductions.”

At the conclusion of his Sunday audience the Pope thanked the faithful who had joined in the previous day’s prayer and fasting. He asked the faithful to continue in prayer “so that the violence and devastation in Syria may cease immediately and that a renewed effort be undertaken to achieve a just solution to this fratricidal conflict.”

On the previous Sunday, September 1, the Pontiff had called for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for the cause of peace in the Middle East, and in Syria in particular, on September 7. Following his lead, dozens of prominent spiritual leaders around the world had joined in the day of prayer. In Syria itself, the Grand Mufti led Sunni Muslims in prayer on Saturday at the Ummayad Mosque.

In Rome, the Saturday vigil of prayer announced by the Pope began in the late afternoon, when 50 priests arrived to hear confessions in the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. At 6:30, the image of the Virgin Mary Salus Populi Romani was enthroned in the Square, and the Pope led the Rosary.

In a homily addressed to the throng in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope commented on the Genesis account of creation, and the theme that “God saw that it was good.” The Holy Father observed: “All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God.”

However, he said, this harmonious creation is damaged by sin.

Creation retains its beauty, which fills us with awe, and it remains a good work. But there is also violence, division, disagreement, war. This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness.

“To be human means to care for one another,” the Pope said. “But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill.” He added that “we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war.”

“Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death,” the Pope said. He urged the faithful to find the answer to violence in the figure of Christ on the Cross:

How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.

“War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity,” Pope Francis said.

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