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Power of prayer resonates 
around the world

HONG KONG (SE): “The day of prayer has given a breath of encouragement and hope to the entire Syrian population, of all creeds, in these uncertain days,” Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, said from Damascus on September 9.

He told AsiaNews that both Muslims and Christians all over the country were united in praying for peace, with churches and mosques all reporting crowds of people gathering to respond to the call of Pope Francis to pray for peace on September 7.

However, he added that he can only speak for the areas of Syria that are not currently under siege and what happened in the biggest hotspot of Aleppo he cannot say.

He said that the city had been isolated for at least eight days prior to September 7, as there has been fierce fighting between rebel forces and the government troops. 

He added that in addition, the bishop of Aleppo told him that the city is sealed off and it is not safe to move around.

The biggest gathering in Syria took place in the Greek-Catholic cathedral, where the Melkite Patriarch Gregory III led a vigil of prayer for peace. A mixed congregation of thousands of Christians of many denominations, together with Muslims and even representatives of the government and the parliament joined together in prayer.

“We prayed for peace throughout the country,” AsiaNews quoted Archbishop Zenari as saying, “especially for Maaloula, a village that has been a symbol of Christianity and which was invaded on September 5 by the Syrian rebels.”

The diplomatic representative of the Holy See to Syria added that for the first time since 2001, when Pope John Paul II visited the country, local media gave good coverage to a pope.

He said that newspapers and television featured pictures of Pope Francis and the around 100,000 people in St. Peter’s Plaza in Rome.

“Live images from Rome and other parts of the world were in the media and many Muslim correspondents expressed surprise at the interest of the pope,” he related.

“It is an exceptional fact that the leader of Christians is committed to achieving peace between Muslims (and Christians), while our neighbours foment war in our country,” he observed.

Archbishop Zenari added that the participation of the international community in the day of fast and prayer sent a strong sign of hope to the beleaguered people of war-torn Syria.

“Syrians were moved by the participation of the whole world in their suffering. Some Muslims asked me to thank the pope for his gesture of good will,” he explained.

Some churches in Hong Kong opened their doors on the evening of September 7 inviting people to sit and pray with the people of Syria.

In Vietnam, people responded in great numbers to the call of the pope. “The Vietnamese know about long wars, Joseph Hung, a Caritas volunteer in Ho Chi Minh City told AsiaNews. “For this reason they appreciate peace even more. We do not want war to happen to another country.”

In The Philippines, the archbishop of Manila, Luis Cardinal Tagle, said that Asians cannot afford to ignore the plight of the Syrian people because they are far away. “We are all united by virtue of our humanity,” he said in a call on the nation’s people to pray with the pope.

“We should not turn ourselves away from this, especially now that the world is ruled by great interdependence—move one part and everything gets affected,” Cardinal Tagle was quoted by CBCP News as saying.

However, the battle for peace is not over yet. Archbishop Behnam Hindo, from the Syrian diocese of Hassaké, said in a letter to the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, “It is for peace that I write to you, our peace. It is against war that I write to you, your war.”

He described his diocese in the north east of the country as being totally enclosed, leaving one-and-a-half million people at the mercy of the torments of war, destruction and the lack of everything.

Archbishop is highly critical of Obama and the push of his administration in Washington. He expressed doubts about the claim it has proof that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is responsible for the sarin chemical attack that took place on August 21.

He called it a ploy to convince the international community to join him in his war-mongering.

Archbishop Hindo appeals to Obama to save massacres, destruction and more suffering.

“I am writing to him whose name resonates the term Baraka (blessing). Blessing for your great nation, peace is the fruit of blessing for my people. These are my desires. They are now in the hands of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate,” Archbishop Hindo states.

In addition, Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, the superior of the St. James Monastery in Qara, told RT Media on September 6 that she has carefully studied the video that was released on August 21 showing a man comforting a Syrian girl in shock and screaming in Arabic, “I am alive.”

While she stresses that she is in no doubt that the chemical weapon attack did take place, she has grave doubts about the authenticity of many of the images on the video which has been used to push the world to agree to an attack on Syria.

She said that the attack is said to have taken place between 3.00am and 5.00am, but the files were released by Reuters at 6.05am.

“How is it possible to collect a dozen different pieces of footage, get more than 200 children and 300 young people together in one place, give them first aid and interview them on camera, and all in less than three hours?” she queries.

“I insist that the footage that is now being peddled as evidence has been fabricated in advance,” she stated. Mother el-Salib said she is preparing a report to send to the United Nations.

She also expressed frustration with the international media for not reporting a massacre perpetrated by rebel forces on August 5 of 500 civilians, including women and children, in Latakia.

She said that everyone in Syria today is in danger, in the most part due to the willingness of the international community to supply weapons freely to any group which seeks them.


“I demand that the international community stops assessing the situation in Syria in accordance with the interests of a certain group of great powers,” she stated.

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