This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter's Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land [emphasis mine]!In answer to the Holy Father's plea, the Grand Mufti of Syria, in the Sunni tradition, has welcomed Pope Francis' call. In a letter sent through diplomatic channels, Ahmed Badreddin Hassou wrote to the Holy Father, saying, "We will be together on September 7, to raise our plea to God," and proposed to "organize a spiritual summit with religious leaders in Damascus or in the Vatican: so maybe we can stop the fire of those who want to destroy the land of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad." Whether such a summit takes place and where remains to be seen.
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, also wrote yesterday to President Obama assuring him of the prayers of the U.S. Bishops and urging the President do seek peace:
We have heard the urgent calls of the Successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis, and our suffering brother bishops of the venerable and ancient Christian communities of the Middle East. As one, they beg the international community not to resort to military intervention in Syria. They have made it clear that a military attack will be counterproductive, will exacerbate an already deadly situation, and will have unintended negative consequences. Their concerns find a strong resonance in American public opinion that questions the wisdom of intervention and in the lack of international consensus.Last week, a community of Trappist nuns in Aleppo wrote a letter in which they considered the prospect of war in Syria:
The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!
A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?
The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.
The world is calling for peace, but will those entrusted with the common good heed these cries?The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…"