IBT-AU Have Twitter, Follow Pope Francis, Receive Church Absolution, Pardon, Forgiveness from Sins During World Youth Day 2013, An Act of Many Firsts
Pope Francis has led what could be the largest inter-faith rally against the planned U.S. military strike launch on Syria. At least 100,000 attended the peace vigil he had called on Saturday in Rome.
Spending most of the four-hour Syria peace vigil in silent prayer, Pope Francis plead on global leaders to always strive for peace and condemn "the idols of dominion and power," tools which effectively destroy God's creation through war.
"This evening, I ask the Lord that we, Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of goodwill, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!" he said.
"May the noise of weapons cease!" he said. "War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity."
Before the start of the vigil, the gathering emitted a political tone when anti-war protesters joined the vigil attendees, waving banners that read "Don't attack Syria" and "Obama you don't have a dream, you have a nightmare." Others waved Syrian flags as well as a few rainbow "Peace" flags.
"This is already a success, the fact that all of us are here, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, atheists," a Hindu believer named Anata told AP. Pilgrims "made an effort to fast, not to do many things, and come here from all over Italy and Europe. This is already a success."
In the U.S., specifically in Washington, 150 protesters demonstrated in front of the White House to voice their opposition to a U.S. military strike in Syria. Similar anti-war protests were also held in other parts of the country, such as in Times Square in New York City. A prayer vigil in Boston was likewise held.
In Argentina, Pope Francis' home country, inter-religious groups and human rights conducted a vigil in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires as well as in other cities across the country.
Similar peace vigils were also held in Italy and in Cuba.
A number of Syrian Christians, right in the center of battle-stricken Damascus, attended a service in al-Zaytoun Church, presided by Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch and All East.
"This is the start of the victory," the AP quoted him as telling the Damascus faithful. "No to war. Yes for peace."
"When man thinks only of himself, his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God's place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined," Pope Francis said. "Then the door opens to violence, indifference and conflict."
The Roman Catholic spiritual leader reminded everyone of Cain's famous question to God - "Am I my brother's keeper?"
"Yes, you are your brother's keeper! To be human means to care for one another," Pope Francis said.
"We bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war," he said. "All of us!"
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