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A flicker of hope

· Reactions to Pope Francis’ appeal for all people to pray and fast together for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world ·

From Jerusalem to Assisi and from Havana to Taizé and in Damascus, too. Numerous faithful from every part of the world gathered in spirit Saturday evening, 7 September, to raise their “cry for peace”, responding to Pope Francis’ appeal. It was a great “mobilization of consciences” to encourage a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, the importance of which was emphasized on Vatican Radio by Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria. “In spiritual unity with those in St Peter’s Square, many prayer vigils were also held in Syrian religious communities. In the Greek-Catholic Melkite Cathedral of Damascus, Catholic and Orthodox bishops came together with representatives of the Government, of the Parliament, and the Muslim community. So many people asked me to convey warm words of gratitude to the Holy Father for this initiative”, said Archbishop Zenari.

The Church of All Nations on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem welcomed pilgrims, the faithful of the Holy City, whom the men and women religious on mission there joined. There were Christians — according to an online statement on the Custody of the Holy Land’s website — from all faiths, rites, languages and nations.

In another city of peace, Assisi, Bishop Domenico Sorrentino called for a “bombing of prayer.... We are not here to analyze or calculate solutions. We are here as brothers and we want to say that we are close to the Syrian people as they endure this dramatic situation”.

On Saturday evening in France, the Brothers of the Taizé community gathered with many young people in the church. “Do not let us abandon ourselves to despair”, they entreated the Lord, “and make us understand that our prayer and compassion matter. Be with those who are suffering and send the Holy Spirit to inspire in all human beings acts of peace”.

Thousands of miles away in Havana, on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s Patroness, Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo García Ibáñez, President of the Bishops’ Conference, recalled the Pope’s appeal for Syria and invited the faithful to pray for peace.

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 18, 2019

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