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U.S. bishops urge Catholics to join Day of Fasting and Prayer for Syria

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A Syrian Muslim girl stands at the top of Mount Qassioun, which overlooks Damascus Aug. 22. During the Sept. 1 Angelus, Pope Francis announced he would lead a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria Sept. 7. (CNS/Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters)

A Syrian Muslim girl stands at the top of Mount Qassioun, which overlooks Damascus Aug. 22. During the Sept. 1 Angelus, Pope Francis announced he would lead a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria Sept. 7. (CNS/Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters)

U.S. Catholics are being encouraged to join a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East and the World Sept. 7 as the U.S. government considers its role in the ongoing struggle in Syria. Pope Francis called the world’s Catholics to the day of fasting and prayer for peace last Sunday.

In response to Pope Francis’ invitation, a local vigil will be held at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave. Phoenix, on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., corresponding with Pope Francis’ vigil in Rome. The vigil will include Adoration, Benediction, the Rosary, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available. All are welcome.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in a statement issued Tuesday, “As our nation’s leaders contemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that we in the United States embrace the Holy Father’s call to pray and fast on Sept. 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere. Pope Francis has exhorted ‘the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace, … a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.’”

The pope stated that St. Peter’s Square will host a gathering for prayer on the afternoon of September 7, the vigil of a holy day honoring the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. The statement from Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates said Pope Francis has stressed the importance of promoting peace and that it must be pursued. Dioceses are being encouraged to take local initiatives to do so.

“We are anguished by the terrible suffering of the Syrian people and again affirm the need for dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict that has wrought so much devastation,” Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates said. “The use of chemical weapons is particularly abhorrent and we urgently pray for the victims of such atrocities and for their loved ones. And we applaud the work done by those bringing humanitarian aid to people affected by this crisis and pray for their efforts to ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters.”

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