.- Joining in Pope Francis' call to make Sept. 7 a day of fasting and prayer for the people of Syria, the Catholic Patriarchate of Jerusalem will hold a Holy Hour at the Basilica of Gethsemane.
“The Latin Parish in Jerusalem has the honor to invite all Christians of the Holy Land to pray for peace in the Middle East, Syria and Egypt,” the patriarchate said in a Sept. 5 release.
Following the 8:30 p.m. Holy Hour, a candlelight procession will be held in the Garden of Olives.
The whole evening – from 7:00 p.m. until midnight – the crypt of the Armenian Catholic Church at the fourth station of the Cross, where Christ met his mother, will be open for silent prayer.
In his Sept. 1 Angelus address, Pope Francis urged the Church, and all people of good will, to join him in fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.
The country is in the midst of a civil war that has killed over 100,000 people and forced more than two million to become refugees, and 4.25 million to become internally displaced.
The U.S. and French governments are considering a military intervention, charging that the Bashar al-Assad regime has used chemical weapons on its own people. The regime has denied responsibility for the weapons, blaming their use on the rebels.
In his address, Pope Francis said that “with all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict.”
“I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity.”
“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming,” he concluded.
“For this reason, brothers and sisters, I have decided to call for a vigil for the whole Church.”