WASHINGTON – U.S.Catholics are being encouraged to join a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace inSyria, the Middle East and the World Sept. 7 as the United States governmentconsiders its role in the ongoing struggle in Syria. Pope Francis called theworld's Catholics to the day of fasting and prayer for peace during an address Sunday,Sept. 1.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, presidentof the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Richard E.Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justiceand Peace, said in a statement issued Tuesday, "As our nation's leaderscontemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that wein the United States embrace the Holy Father's call to pray and fast onSeptember 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violentconflicts everywhere. Pope Francis has exhorted 'the international community tomake every effort to promote clear proposals for peace, … a peace based ondialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.'"
The pope stated that St. Peter'sSquare will host a gathering for prayer on the afternoon of September 7, thevigil of a holy day honoring the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. The statementfrom Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates said Pope Francis has stressed the importanceof promoting peace and that it must be pursued. Dioceses are being encouragedto take local initiatives to do so.
"We are anguished by the terriblesuffering of the Syrian people and again affirm the need for dialogue andnegotiation to resolve this conflict that has wrought so much devastation,"Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates said. "The use of chemical weapons isparticularly abhorrent and we urgently pray for the victims of such atrocitiesand for their loved ones.And we applaudthe work done by those bringing humanitarian aid to people affected by thiscrisis and pray for their efforts to ease the suffering of our brothers andsisters.
The statement in its entirety, alongwith other resources regarding the church's efforts in the region, is availableat www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/syria/index.cfm
Pope Francis' call for a day offasting and prayer is online at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/09/01/pope:_angelus_appeal_for_peace_(full_text)/en1-724673.
Keywords:Pope Francis, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop Richard Pates, President Obama,prayer, fasting, Syria, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, war, peace
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