AsiaNews) - "The day of prayer announced by the Pope is an extraordinary
gesture of peace, which confirms the great love of Francis for this troubled
land . I invite all Catholics, Orthodox , Muslims and non-believers to pray
with us for peace in Syria
and the Middle East", Gregory III Laham, Melkite Greek - Catholic Patriarch
of Antioch, of all the East, of
Alexandria and Jerusalem tells AsiaNews commenting
on the Day
of Prayer for Syria led by the pope to be held worldwide on 7 September from 19.00 to midnight.
The prelate stresses that all the parishes of the Greek Melkite Church in the Middle East and around the world have already begun preparations to respond to the initiative". In Syria - continues Gregory III - we will keep our churches open until midnight to allow everyone (Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims) to pray. Vigils will be held wherever possible, even if there are fewer than 10 people participating. "
The Pope's initiative comes in the days when the United States, France and the Arab League countries are discussing preparations for an armed intervention in Syria. For Gregory III , the spiritual closeness of Francis and the Church is central to all the Syrian people - Christian and Muslim - who without support are likely to lose hope. The patriarch explained that on September 8, the feast of the Birth of Mary, very much felt in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Lebanon. " We entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary - he concludes - to fasting and prayer. There will be special celebrations at the shrine of Saidnaya (Damascus ) and in the various Marian places of worship around Lebanon." ( S.C. )