MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Local parishes will hold Masses and prayer services on Saturday, September 7, in line with the Pope’s call for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria, Catholic Church officials said.
“We call on the bishops to heed the call of Pope Francis and join in prayer for peace in Syria and the whole world,” said Msgr Joselito Asis, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in an interview posted by the CBCP news service on Tuesday, September 3.
The Archdiocese of Manila, for one, announced it will hold a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on Saturday. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle specified that parishes will hold this through Masses and special prayers for peace.
“Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G Cardinal Tagle, in a circular to all parish priests and shrine rectors in the archdiocese, asks parishes to celebrate the morning Mass on Saturday, September 7, asking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, for the people of Syria. He also encourages the faithful to have a Holy Hour for peace after the Mass,” the Manila archdiocese said in a statement.
Tagle has prescribed, among others, the following intentions for the prayers of the faithful:
- “We pray for peace in Syria. May the two conflicting forces at war with each other come to realize that nobody wins in a war and that peace is the only way to genuine community of human kind. We pray to the Lord”; and
- “We pray for those who are suffering and grieving because of this conflict of powers in Syria, that they may continue to hold on to the power of love and peace rather than the destruction of hatred and vengeance. We pray to the Lord.”
The archdiocese referred its flock to www.rcam.org for a complete liturgical guide for the Mass and the Holy Hour.
The Diocese of Cubao will also heed the Pope’s call, the CBCP’s news service said. “We are disseminating the Pope’s appeal for prayer, penance and fasting for peace in Syria. We have been communicating this appeal in our Masses,” Ongtioco explained.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo likewise urged his archdiocese hold the day of prayer and fasting.
Pope to lead vigil
Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria on Saturday, saying: “I condemn with particular force the use of chemical weapons. I still have in my mind and heart the terrible images of the past days.”
“There is judgment from God and history on our actions that no one can escape,” Francis added.
The Pope on Sunday, September 1, said he will lead prayers with a 5-hour vigil at St Peter’s Square.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, warned Filipinios against planned air strikes in Syria. The DFA on Monday, September 2, said hundreds of Filipinos should join the growing number of repatriates from the strife-torn nation.
“We have been encouraging our citizens in Syria to get out of harm’s way and seek immediate repatriation since we raised alert level 4,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters on Monday.
Earlier, US President Barack Obama said he had decided the August 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people was so heinous – and such a threat to long-term US security – that he would respond with a limited military strike.
But Obama said he believed it was important to win Congress’s support when it officially returns from its summer break on September 9. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com