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Irish faithful invited to join Pope Francis in praying for Syria

By Sarah Mac Donald - 26 October, 2016

“I encourage the faithful to share the ideals of the Caritas International #PeacePossible4Syria campaign and to pray for peace in the Middle East, especially in Syria and the city of Aleppo” – Bishop Crean.

Aleppo

The Irish faithful have been invited to pray with their bishops and Pope Francis for peace in the Middle East, especially in Syria, this coming bank holiday Monday.

The prayer initiative has been organised to coincide with the Pope’s participation in the ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation which will take place in Sweden on 31 October.

On Monday next, at 1.30 p.m. Irish time, Pope Francis, alongside Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation and the Rev Martin Junge, the Federation’s General Secretary, will lead a common prayer service based on the recently published Catholic-Lutheran Common Prayer liturgical guide.

The idea behind this event, co-organised by the Catholic Church, Caritas International and the Lutheran World Federation, is “to shift relations from conflict to communion with a focus on young people and the hope which this commemoration will bring.”

The Irish bishops have invited the faithful to gather on Monday at a time that most suits them to hold a prayer gathering in their parishes, schools, community venues, or at home.

Trócaire, the bishops’ overseas development agency, has developed a special prayer service for use in parishes for the occasion. It is available to download from catholicbishops.ie.

Commenting on the prayer initiative, Bishop William Crean of Cloyne, Chairman of Trócaire said, “Innocent men, women and children are paying the ultimate price in the continuing conflict raging in Syria, especially in Aleppo, where they are caught in the crossfire.”

He added that he joined with Pope Francis in urging governments to find a political solution to the war in Syria.

“I encourage the faithful to share the ideals of the Caritas International #PeacePossible4Syria campaign and to pray for peace in the Middle East, especially in Syria and the city of Aleppo.”

Those taking part in prayer gatherings on Monday 31 October are invited to share their particular prayer service using the hashtag #PeacePossible4Syria.

The five-year conflict in Syria has resulted in almost half a million deaths and the displacement of seven and a half million people.

Last September, Trócaire’s partner in Syria, Caritas Syria, sent the following message:

“When we hear the news talking about the truces made between countries about Syria, or the decision of some countries to support some armed groups inside, or the agreements of ceasefire made by foreign governments, or training and sending more fighters to Syria, or the foreign fighting airplanes flying in our sky without permission, we always feel ourselves watching a football game between the big powers of the world on the Syrian land and using the Syrian ball ‘the Syrian people’.

Unfortunately, what is happening during this game is that the players are destroying with their big shoes while playing the infrastructure, buildings, factories and are crushing the Syrian people, especially the poor ones who became the majority.

After almost six years of war, we as Syrians are exhausted. This war is not only destroying our country, but it is destroying our souls from inside. The war knocked every door in Syria, entered every house, and left behind its traces everywhere, and in every heart…

War made most of us displaced in our own country after we lost all our belongings, our childhood memories and our past…

War let us feel insecure all the time even if we are in our own houses…

War made most of us poor, not being able to buy life necessities or bread for children…

War entered our families from inside, splitting them apart, and causing disintegration…

War made education an unreachable dream for our children and youth…

War made our streets full of homeless people, especially the small ones, the children…

War closed the foreign companies, embassies, destroyed our factories and left most of us without work…

War is increasing the prices of goods and the burden of our lives every day…

War deprived us from electricity, medication and clean water, and took us back to the Stone Age…

War made us shrive during winter without being able to heat ourselves or our children…

War is forcing us every day to say goodbye to our beloved ones who decided to immigrate, especially our young people…

War left our elderlies without anyone to take care of, without dignity in their last period of life…

War let the fighting game be the most amusing one for our children; it entered their discussions, their way of thinking, their playing and hurt their innocent childhood…

The list is very long of the war results on us, and our needs are huge now, especially during this time of the year. The winter is coming, and the schools began recently, which press economically on every Syrian family.

Unfortunately, without our support as Caritas, and the other active NGOs in Syria, a lot of families cannot survive anymore. A lot of families are depending on us, and we always feel that our support is like a drop of water in front of all this thirst.

We offer food, medication, rent allowance, clothes, education support, elderly support, and psycho-social support through our projects, but when we ask our beneficiaries about their most urgent need, we mostly will hear this word: PEACE!

All of us need peace to be able to rebuild ourselves, our lives, and our country. We all dream of a day when we wake up in the morning to find out that the fighting between us has stopped, and that we don’t need to be afraid anymore from the big shoes of the football players, as the game is over…”

  • Caritas International is a confederation of over 160 members who are working at the grass roots in almost every country of the world, reaching out to the poor, vulnerable and excluded, regardless of race or religion, to build a world based on justice and fraternal love. From the founding of the first Caritas in Germany in 1897, to the setting up of Caritas Internationalis in 1951, until today, Caritas has had a rich history of listening respectfully to the suffering of the poor and giving them the tools to transform their own lives. The deep moral and spiritual principles of dignity, justice, solidarity and stewardship still guide Caritas today.
  • Watch the Syria: Peace is Possible video and download resources from the website http://syria.caritas.org/
  • Download the prayer service for Irish parishes, schools and homes from www.catholicbishops.ie

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