12 September 2013
Pope calls world vigil for peace in Syria
As Church leaders continue to warn that Western military strikes in Syria could turn a civil conflict into a world war, Pope Francis has urged all people of goodwill to join him this evening in a five-hour vigil to pray for peace in the Middle Eastern country and around the globe.
“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, 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,” Pope Francis said at last Sunday’s Angelus, where he announced this evening’s hastily planned prayer vigil and day of fasting.
“Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!” he told tens of thousands of cheering people who were in St Peter’s Square for the Sunday appointment. Many more are expected in the square this evening between 7 p.m. and midnight (Rome time) when the Pope will be leading the prayer vigil, taking place on the eve of the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, whose intercession Pope Francis invoked. “Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!” he said, leading the crowd in the appeal.
“How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country [Syria], especially among civilians and the unarmed!” the Pope exclaimed. “With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons,” he said. “There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which is inescapable!”
This was Pope Francis’ most impassioned plea to date for a peaceful resolution of Syria’s bloody civil war. “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence,” he said, voicing opposition to an outside military intervention. Instead, he called on the international community to act “without further delay” to enact initiatives promoting “peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people”.
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