09/07/2013, 00.00
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Day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria

Various Christian denominations , Muslims, members of other religions and atheists take part. The prayer vigil, with the presence of Pope Francis starts at 19 in St. Peter's Square. Obama receives the full support of France and generic support of 10 other states.

Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - A day of prayer and fasting was launched by Pope Francis for today, for peace in Syria , the Middle East and in the world and against any military intervention in Syria. The highlight of this day will be a prayer vigil with the participation of the Pope himself , in St. Peter's Square starting at 7pm (local time) .

At last Sunday's Angelus, Francis had said that "a cry for peace ... rises from every corner of the earth, from every nation, from every heart".  His wish that "peace break out" in Syria and around the world through this day of prayer and fasting, was welcomed by Christians of other denominations, by Muslim communities and other religions and even atheists.

The vigil , with moments of prayer, song and silence , will last until at least 11pm. It will begin with the enthronement of the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani and Queen of Peace, because the following day is the Nativity of Our Lady, a very dear feast day for Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims.

The recitation of the Rosary will follow, the Joyful Mysteries, which the pope wants preceded by short reflections from St. Therese of Lisieux.

After the Marian prayer, the Pope will give an address, followed by Eucharistic adoration, interspersed with prayers for the peace by popes down through the years, biblical and patristic readings. Five families from Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land, United States and Russia will be present, for the offering of incense.

In recent days, Pope Francis wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the G20 to avert a military attack against Syria, which could lead to an explosion in the region, bringing further suffering to the peoples of the Middle East. He also strongly advocated that the international community wakes up from its "inertia " and implement a peace conference for Syria. While condemning the use of chemical weapons, he also demanded that the United " abandon all vain pretense of a military solution ."

The U.S. government is the most determined on a military attack against Syria because it believes the government guilty of using chemical weapons against the population. At the G20 President Barack Obama sought to rally allies for an attack, even without a UN resolution .

Until now he has only the full support of the French president. But he gained the support of up to 10 states for a generic "strong international response" against the use of chemical weapons by Damascus. The signatories are: Great Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia , Turkey. Other traditional U.S. allies such as Germany, Mexico and the European Union did not sign.

For its part, Russia, which casts doubt on responsibilities for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, remains opposed to a military attack and has the backing of China, India, Indonesia , Argentina, Brazil , South Africa and Italy .

Meanwhile, ahead of a possible U.S. attack and possible counter attack, American , French , Russian and Iranian warships are gathering.

Barack Obama has called on the U.S. Congress - which resumes session September 9 - to express themselves in favor of armed intervention.  Both is staff and he personally,  have pledged to lobby parliamentarians to push for a vote. But the U.S. Catholic Church and the majority of the population (at least 60%) are opposed to any military action.


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