AsiaNews) - Christians from all of the parishes of Damascus, the Syrian various
dioceses and thousands of Muslims on September 7, took part in the prayer vigil
for peace in Syria and in the world convoked by the pope . Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr . Mario
Zenari , apostolic nuncio in Damascus, defines the Day of Prayer an exceptional
event that " has given a breath of encouragement and hope to the entire
Syrian population , without distinction of creed , in these dark and uncertain days."
prelate said that all "Syrians were moved by the participation of the
whole world in their suffering . Some Muslims asked me to thank the Pope for
his gesture ."
The prelate said that the vigils were held in all the parishes of the area of Damascus, in the internal dioceses and areas not under siege. Unfortunately there is no news from Aleppo, home to one of the most important Christian communities in Syria. According to the bishop, the city has been isolated for at least eight days because of fighting between rebels and the army. The most important celebrations took place in the Greek-Catholic cathedral of Damascus. The vigil, led by the Melkite Patriarch Gregory III , was attended by Catholic, Orthodox , Protestant and Muslim religious authorities, representatives of the government , parliament and thousands of people of all faiths .
"We prayed for peace throughout the country - continues Msgr . Zenari - especially for Maaloula, a village that has been a symbol of Christianity and which was invaded on September 5 by the Syrian rebels."
For the first time since 2001, the year of Pope John Paul II's visit to Syria , local media gave ample coverage to the Pope. The pictures of Francis and St. Peter's full of people were published on the front page in the newspapers. The televisions have sent live images from Rome and other parts of the world. In the media, many Muslim correspondents have expressed surprise at the interest of the pope : "It 's an exceptional fact that the leader of Christians is committed to achieving peace between Muslims, while our neighbors foment war in our country" . (S.C.)