I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.
On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mat, Queen of Peace, pray for us!Though, strictly speaking, not required, I can see no good reason - aside from illness or some other such serious cause - why everyone should not answer the Pope's call.
The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land has released the text of a prayer composed by both Pope Francis and Patriarch Twal:
Please consider praying this prayer with your families when gathered for meals especially on Saturday, but during the leads up to and following the day of prayer.God of compassion, listen to the cries of the people of Syria. Give comfort to those who suffer because of the violence. Give comfort to those who mourn their dead, and strength to neighboring countries to welcome the refugees. Convert the hearts of those who resort to arms and protect those who work to promote peace.God of hope, inspire leaders to choose peace instead of violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies. Inspire compassion in the universal Church for the Syrian people and give us hope for a future of peace based on justice for all.We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the world. Amen.
For my part, being back now in Rome for a while, I intend to join Pope Francis in prayer in St. Peter's Square. Please, pray and fast for peace!
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided another prayer that may be used to pray for peace:
God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.
God of Hope,Additionally, the USCCB has offered a petition that may be included in the Universal Prayer at Mass:
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace.
We pray to the Lord...