Pope Francis led Catholics worldwide in a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, urging world leaders to remove their nations from a “spiral of sorrow and death.” In a five-hour prayer vigil in Vatican City, Francis reminded worshippers that “violence and war lead only to death.”
Meanwhile, demonstrations in Lebanon against a possible U.S. military intervention in Syria intensified. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with European leaders to look for international support of U.S. action, protests in D.C., New York and Paris sprung up on Saturday.
Pope, in Syria peace appeal, calls for end to spiral of death
Philip Pullella, Reuters
September 7, 2013
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A sombre-looking Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal to avert a widening of Syria’s conflict on Saturday, urging world leaders to pull humanity out of a “spiral of sorrow and death”.
Francis, who two days ago branded a military solution in Syria “a futile pursuit”, led the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.
“Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!” Francis said at the midpoint of a five-hour prayer service before tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square.
The United States and France are considering military action against Damascus to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed hundreds of people. Assad’s government denies it was responsible.
The service was punctuated by music, prayer, the reciting of the rosary and long periods of silence in which the participants were asked to meditate on the need for peace to vanquish the destruction of war.