Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - In view of the critically dangerous situation in Syria at present, Pope Francis is making a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church to pray for world peace, in the hope that a peace that is based on dialogue, negotiation, reconciliation, compassion and the well-being of the nations concerned will take the place of confrontations, conflicts and violence.
The Holy Father has proclaimed for the whole Church, on 7 September (Saturday), the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and throughout the world. He is also inviting Christians of other confessions, as well as followers of other religions and all people of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.
On 7 September, from 19:00 until 24:00, the Holy Father will preside over a prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, in a spirit of penance, to ask the God of mercy to grant peace to the world, especially in Syria and the Middle East. Cardinal John Tong is appealing to all the faithful in the Hong Kong Diocese, in particular to parishes, religious communities and Catholic organizations, each in its own way, to join the Holy Father in fasting and praying for the same intention.
Parishes are to add a special intention for world peace, in particular for peace in Syria and in the Middle East, to the prayer of the faithful at all Masses on Sunday, 8 September. Cardinal John Tong also earnestly exhorts the faithful to continue offering prayers and works of penance in support of a world peace that is sustainable for the long term. An intercessory prayer for peace in Syria follows.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria
Comfort those who suffer violence
Console those who mourn the dead
Give strength to Syria's neighbouring countries to welcome the refugees
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms
And protect those who are committed to peace.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with their enemies
Inflame the Universal Church with compassion for the people of Syria
And give us hope for a future built on justice for all
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the world.