Amanda brought you these details earlier in the week. Now let's #PrayForPeace:
While weighing the pros and cons of intervention in war-torn Syria (I’ve expressed my concerns here) we must also remember the innocent blood spilt and the countless lives lost: an estimated 110,000 Syrians have died over the past two years and millions more are now living as refugees. How many children, to put it plainly, have been brutally murdered and orphaned in Syria? How many families have been torn apart and displaced? How many communities have been utterly destroyed and desecrated? If anything, a peaceful resolution in Syria seems almost impossible to imagine.
And yet perhaps that is exactly why Pope Francis issued a worldwide call to prayer last week that begins today, urging Catholics -- and all people “of good will” -- to spend no less than five hours on Saturday praying for world peace (via The Corner):
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
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.
I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. 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! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.
He continued with the details:
On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite 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.
This is a global event and all are encouraged to participate. For my part, I will be praying especially for our commander-in-chief -- Barack Obama -- who alone will determine what (if any) steps the United States will take to deal with the ruthless and evil tyrant Bashar al-Assad. I pray that he makes the right decision: after all, to paraphrase General Dwight Eisenhower, the eyes of the world are upon him.