Pope Francis has called on the world’s Catholics to fast and pray for peace on Sept. 7, and Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville on Friday encouraged East Tennesseans to join the effort.
“I’m inviting all our Catholic institutions and people of good will to pray for peace in Syria,” Bishop Stika said.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, who is chairman of the conference’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, also urged the nation to pray and fast for peace.
“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,” Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates said. “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 in Rome will host a gathering for prayer on the afternoon of Sept. 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 in the United States and around the world 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.”