Greatly committed to assisting the civil population martyred by war that has dragged on for five years now, last 31 October, Caritas Internationalis called for a world day of prayer for Syria. Simultaneously, Pope Francis and other religious leaders prayed together for peace in the Middle East and particularly for the Syrian people, when they gathered in Sweden for the opening of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Reform.
«While the people are suffering, incredible sums of money are spent to supply the combatants, and some of these countries that furnish the arms are also those that advocate peace. How can we believe in those who caress with their right hand and strike you with the left??» This was Pope Francis’s admonishment in his impelling video message in support of the campaign promoted by Caritas Internationalis. After encouraging all to live the Year of Mercy with determination, the Holy Father forcefully underlined that “peace in Syria is possible,” and invited the church groups, parishes, and communities to promote all possible awareness campaigns «to spread a message of peace, unity and hope». And added: «After prayer, let works of peace ensue».
Many communities responded to the Pope’s appeal, especially the Christian community of Damascus, which gathered in prayer last Sunday, 30 October, believing in the force of prayer in asking for the gift of peace. Some members of the Focolare community who took part wrote: «We were there in the midst of a fully packed Church: the faithful of all the churches, Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals, the Apostolic Nuncio and some bishops. In those moments, more than ever, we felt the force of prayer, that unity is tangible, and there is strong hope that peace will soon be established. At the end of the prayer, the scouts coming from all over Syria presented some documentaries on peace in the square, and with songs, made us experience a moment of joy, with fireworks and launching of balloons.»
“Syria: peace is possible,” was thus Pope Francis’s invitation to all the faithful and people of good will; and an invitation to address «those who are involved in peace negotiations so that they take these agreements seriously and commit themselves to facilitating the humanitarian aid.» And he concluded: «Let’s join forces at all levels, to make peace in our beloved Syria possible.»