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Syrian children pray for peace

ALEPPO (AsiaNews): To mark International Children’s Day on June 1 a special prayer was organised at the Franciscan parish in Aleppo, Syria, in which both Catholic and Orthodox children joined together in a prayer for peace.

Father Alsabagh Ibrahim described the prayer service as being the most beautiful response possible to the violence of war and fundamentalism in a city that has been under heavy bombardment for weeks.

Father Ibrahim said that he was inspired by Pope Francis when he said to pray not only for our children, but for the little ones of the world and those who live in a war situation, who suffer, who are victims of exploitation.

As part of a campaign to raise international awareness about the violence that affects children, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Syria promoted the special day of prayer.

Hundreds of children gathered  on the day in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Tartous and Marmarita asking for the grace of peace and a future of hope.

In addition to prayer, the parish of St. Francis celebrated a special Mass dedicated to children in the late afternoon.

“The church was decorated with balloons,” Father Ibrahim explained. “Parents came with their children, at least 300, but perhaps many more.”

He added, “Together they can make their voices heard against war, exploitation and violence with all the children of the world. Our hope is that they can all grow up as the child of Nazareth, in grace and wisdom.”

The parish also organised a summer camp that welcomes hundreds of children every day. “We want to get them out of their homes so they can overcome fear,” Father Ibrahim said.

They also receive meat, drink milk and other foodstuffs they may not get at home.

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