US Bishops Ask Faithful to Join in Pope's Day of Prayer for Syria

Given Possible US Military Strike, Say Prayer of US Faithful Is ‘Particularly Appropriate and Urgent’

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U.S. Catholics are being encouraged to join a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East and the World, which Pope Francis has called for this Saturday, Sept. 7.

Their appeal comes as the United States government considers its role in the ongoing struggle in Syria, and specifically considers military intervention as an answer to the use of chemical weapons.

Pope Francis called the world’s Catholics to the day of fasting and prayer for peace during his weekly Angelus address last Sunday.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in a statement issued today, «As our nation’s leaders contemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that we in the United States embrace the Holy Father’s call to pray and fast on Sept. 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere. Pope Francis has exhorted ‘the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace, … a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.'»

The Pope announced that there will be a gathering for prayer in St. Peter’s Square on the evening of Sept. 7, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. The statement from Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates echoes Pope Francis’ stress on the importance of promoting peace. Dioceses are being encouraged to organize local initiatives.

«We are anguished by the terrible suffering of the Syrian people and again affirm the need for dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict that has wrought so much devastation,» Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates said. «The use of chemical weapons is particularly abhorrent and we urgently pray for the victims of such atrocities and for their loved ones. And we applaud the work done by those bringing humanitarian aid to people affected by this crisis and pray for their efforts to ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters.»

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