Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In today's Angelus, Pope Francis pleaded for an end to the "clatter of arms" in Syria, calling on the parties to meet and talk in order to stop this "war between brothers".
Speaking to the faithful in St Peter's Square, the pontiff called for the international community to "show greater sensitivity towards this tragic situation and do all it can to help the beloved Syrian nation find a solution to a war that is sowing death and destruction."
"With great suffering and concern I continue to follow the situation in Syria. The increase in violence in a war between brothers, with the proliferation of massacres and atrocities, that we all have been able to see in the terrible images of these days, leads me once again to raise my voice that the clatter of arms may cease."
In recent days, in parallel with an escalation of violence in Damascus itself, images were shown of people affected by chemical weapons, with Syria's regime and rebels blaming each other for their use.
Referring to the matter, the pope said, "It is not confrontation that offers hope to resolve problems, but rather the ability to meet and dialogue."
"From the bottom of my heart," he added, "I would like to express my closeness in prayer and solidarity with all the victims of this conflict, with all those who suffer, especially children, and I invite you to keep alive the hope of peace."
"Let us all together pray for peace: Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us!" he told all those present right after his appeal.
Before the Marian prayer, Francis gave his comments on today's Sunday Gospel (XXI during Year C, Luke 13, 22:30), in which Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem, calls for striving "through the narrow door" (see 24).
"The image of the gate," the pope explained, "comes back several times in the Gospel, a reference to home, the hearth where we find safety, love and warmth. Jesus tells us that there is a gate through which we come into God's family, the warmth of God's house, and of communion with Him. Jesus himself is that gate (cf. John, 10:9). He is the gateway to salvation. He leads us to the Father. And Jesus's gate is never closed; it is always open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusion, and without privileges. Everyone is invited to cross that gate, to cross the gate of faith and come into his life, and let him into our life, so that He may transform it, renew it, and give it full and lasting joy "
"Nowadays," the pontiff added," we walk by many gates that beckon us to come in by promising happiness that lasts but a moment, that dries up by itself and has no future. By which gate do we want to come in? Who do we want to let in through the gate of our life? Let me say this in no uncertain terms: We are not afraid to cross the gate of the faith in Jesus, to let him into our lives more and more, to get out of our own selfishness, our own close-mindedness, our indifference toward others."
"Of course, Jesus's door is a narrow one," Francis said in concluding, "not because it is a torture chamber, but because it calls upon us to open our hearts to Him, to acknowledge our sins, our need of his salvation, his forgiveness, his love; to be humble enough to accept his mercy and be renewed by Him. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that being a Christian does not mean sporting a 'label', but represents a way of living and bearing witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, and in doing good. Through the narrow gate that is Christ, our whole life must pass.
"To the Virgin Mary, Gate of Heaven, we ask for help to cross the gate of faith, to let her Son transform our existence as he transformed hers in order to bring the joy of the Gospel to everyone."
After he greeted various groups present the square, Francis offered everyone his best wishes for a safe return from holidays.
"For many people," he said, "this is a time that marks the end of summer holidays. I wish everyone a quiet return to the normal work of daily life, looking forward to the future with hope."