Pope Francis Leads Massive Prayer Vigil For Syria

Pope Francis led a massive prayer vigil in Vatican City on Saturday to call for peace in Syria. Tens of thousands of people filled St. Peter’s Square.

The vigil was mostly spent in silent prayer for the situation in Syria. However, the pope did speak at one point to denounce people who are “captivated by the idols of dominion and power.”

The Huffington Post reports that the pope added, “This evening, I as the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!”

Pope Francis added, “War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity.” The prayer vigil, which the pope announced last week, was meant to ask for peace regarding Syria.

The pope asked the world to join in the vigil, and in response a few dozen Syrian Christians gathered together in Damascus to pray for peace.

The vigil comes just days before the US Congress will consider measures that would send cruise missiles raining down on Syria. The military attack would be a response for the reported use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. So far, Assad has denied there is evidence his government launched the attack.

NPR notes that other countries in the European Union have voiced their agreement that Assad was responsible. However, they have also said they will wait for the UN’s report on the attack.

Pope Francis has taken to Twitter in recent days to express his criticism for violence in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack. Along with expressing his heartbreak for Syria’s civil war, he also warned that violence would only lead to more violence.

It is unclear if Pope Francis’ prayer vigil will have any effect on how the US Congress votes this week.

[Image by Casa Rosada via Wikimedia Commons]