Pray for Syria, Urge Charity Leaders

ROME, JULY 20, 2012 ( As the conflict in Syria turns bloodier, Catholic leaders are urging the faithful to bring the country to prayer.

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The Associated Press reported that the death toll over the last two days of fighting neared 500, turning these days into some of the bloodiest of the 16-month war.

Johannes Freiherr Heereman, Aid to the Church in Need International Executive President, and the organization’s UK Director, Neville Kyrke-Smith, called on the charity’s supporters to pray for people of all faiths in the conflict.

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing Damascus for Lebanon and Iraq as guerrillas battle to overturn the ruling regime and the capital city. 

Heereman said, «We call on all benefactors of ACN throughout the world to pray for peace in Syria.»

Kyrke-Smith noted that on a trip to Lebanon in June, local religious and priests already told him of their communities efforts to cope with the huge influx of refugees, a challenge that has now multiplied.

The AP cited the U.N. refugee agency in reporting that between 8,500 and 30,000 Syrians have entered Lebanon in the past two days.

Benedict XVI is set to visit Lebanon in September, where he will sign the postsynodal apostolic exhortation from the 2010 synod on the Middle East.

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