Pope reiterates call for peace in Syria

Francis to lead day of fasting, with US close to intervention

Pope reiterates call for peace in Syria

Rome, September 4 - Pope Francis renewed his call for peace in Syria on Wednesday, ahead of the day of fasting and prayer he will lead on Saturday, with the US looking close to military intervention. The Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, and Rome's Jewish community have also said they will take part in Saturday's initiative, making it an inter-religious peace vigil. ''This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world,'' the pope said in his general audience on Wednesday. ''Even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own,'' the pope continued, urging the Roman faithful and pilgrims to join a prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square at 19:00 on Saturday. ''May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!'' the pope declared. The Grand Mufti of Syria Ahmad Badreddin Hassou wrote a letter to Pope Francis saying he would attend the vigil in Saint Peter's Square - if possible - or pray and fast on Saturday in the Damascus mosque in solidarity. The mufti also proposed an inter-religious summit at the Vatican. Rome's chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni announced that the city's Jewish community will be joining Saturday's prayer and fasting, which comes after the three days of Rosh Hashanah, or the new year, which began Wednesday. US ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Wednesday threw her weight behind US President Barack Obama, who is seeking rapid approval from Congress to strike Syria, after apparent poison gas attacks killed hundreds and hospitalized thousands in late August. The US maintains the deaths and injuries of civilians were caused by chemical weapons fired by Syrian President Bashar Assad's military forces. US military intervention in Syria is also supported by Obama's political opposition leader, Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

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