Monday 2nd September 2013
Pope Francis has proclaimed Saturday (September 7) a "day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world." On Saturday evening, the Pope will lead thousands in St Peter's Square in a vigil for peace. He has asked people everywhere to take part in the initiative. During his Angelus address on Sunday, the Holy Father said:
I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. On 7 September, in Saint Peter's Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God's great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
In Catholic churches throughout the country prayers will be said, coinciding with the vigil in St Peter's Square. In London, events will include a Holy Hour led by Archbisop Vincent Nichols after the 6.00pm Mass on Saturday and Adoration at Southwark Cathedral, led by Archishop Peter Smith, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. For adult Catholics in good health, taking part in the fast means eating only one full meal on Saturday.