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Pope invites children around the world to pray for peace in Syria
"We would like to see our country once again become the country of happiness and love it like it used to be."
By Eva-Maria Kolmann
NEW YORK—During the Angelus prayer last Sunday in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Francis drew attention to the fact that the children in Syria will be holding a prayer day for peace in Syria on June 1, the “International Children’s Day.”
Children all over the world are urged to take part. The Pope’s exact words were, “Syrian children invite the children of the world to join their prayer for peace.”
In a joint message, the Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of Syria took up the initiative of international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to observe this day as a children’s day of prayer for peace. Father Andrzej Halemba, who heads ACN’s Middle East desk, said: “Children are the most pitiful victims of this war, but they’re also the ones who are closer to God, their appeal will be heard by God, and hopefully it’ll move the hearts of those waging this war.”
Father Halemba continued: “Several hundred children will gather in each of the cities Damascus, Homs, Tartus, Marmarita and Aleppo to pray together for peace. Throughout the day, various events and joint prayers will be held, including processions for peace, during which the children will carry pictures and statues of the Christ child dressed as a king, bearing a globe in His left hand and blessing the world with the right.”
The patriarchs have chosen the Christ child to be the “patron” of this day of prayer for peace because, they proclaimed, He “came to bring peace” and was heralded by the Prophet Isaiah as the “Prince of Peace”. They said that children all over the world—especially in schools and parishes—should participate in this campaign.
ACN has obtained a letter to Pope Francis signed by Bishop Abdo Arbach, the Melkite Catholic bishop of Homs, and the Syrian city’s Orthodox Bishop Selvanos of Homs in the name of all the children of Homs. In this letter, the children thank the Pope for his efforts for peace in Syria, ask for his prayers and call on him “to save them from the maelstrom of hate, from the behemoths of wrath and from those who deal with human organs,” because they, the children, are “the first victims of these crimes.”
They also wrote: “We would like to see our country once again become the country of happiness and love it like it used to be, a land where we will plant olive trees and sow wheat, and in which there is no burnt soil on which the canons and rocket launchers of hate stand.”
Syrian children in Homs make their First Communion; ACN photo