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No. 6624


Holy Father asks Catholics to devote this Saturday to prayer for peace

September 6 2013 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)


POPE FRANCIS has called on every Catholic across the world to devote this Saturday to prayer and fasting for peace in Syria.

During a stirring Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis made a passionate appeal for peace.

He said: “I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on September 7 next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

He continued: “On September 7, in St Peter’s Square, here, from 7pm until 12am, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.”

At the start of his weekly address, Pope Francis said his heart was particularly wounded by the latest developments in Syria, with calls for foreign military inter- vention following a chemical attack on citizens in Damascus.

He said: “I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from deep within me. How much suffering, how much devasta- tion, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred coun- try, especially among civilians and the unarmed? I think of many children who will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart.”

Raising his voice and gesticulating emphatically, Pope Francis continued: “There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war. Violence begets violence.

“With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close them- selves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict.

ber 7 be kept as a day of prayer and fast- ing for peace in Syria. I hope that in response to the daily reports of violence and suffering caused by the conflict, people of every faith take up this prayer.

“As the crucial debate about Syria continues across many capitals, it is impor- tant that we do not lose sight of the funda- mental imperative of bringing this bitter and catastrophic civil war to an end, by peaceful means, as soon as possible. This is the criterion against which all actions must be judged.

“The deaths, destruction, suffering and hardship inflicted on the people of Syria multiply day by day. Among the most grotesque and illegal acts are the uses of chemical weapons. This war must be brought to an end. This is the key and primary challenge facing international and regional leaders and the United Nations.

“The G20 Summit in St Petersburg later this week is surely a crucial opportunity.” The House of Commons rejected mili- tary action against Syria in a vote last Thursday in a humiliating defeat for the

Government.Following the shock result in the

Commons, President Barack Obama announced that he would be seeking autho- risation from Congress before the United States proceeds with military action.

Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, a Catholic and former Chief of the Defence Staff, said that British military action against Syria would “not have passed muster under a just war”.

Lord Guthrie told the Telegraph: “This is not a question of being isolationist but of being sensible. Military action would be a great mistake. One reason why it would not have met the definition of a just war is that it would not have worked. Assad has nothing to lose by continuing and every- thing to lose by giving up.”

He added: “Of course the use of chem- ical weapons is ghastly, but there was an element of punishment about all this that could have done more harm than good and could end by making the Islamic world hate us. The concept of punishment is not something you go to war about.”

He argued that a military attack would carry a “huge risk of alienating the entire region completely and of destabilising it in the long term”.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family has suggested that parents should serve “austere, minimal food” on the day of prayer and fasting.

Archbishop Nichols will lead a Holy Hour for peace in the Middle East on Saturday after the 6pm Mass at Westmin- ster Cathedral on Saturday. The London Oratory will celebrate a Mass for Peace at 6pm followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until midnight.

“With similar vigour I exhort the inter- national community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.”

Following the Pope’s appeal, Arch- bishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “Pope Francis has asked that Septem- A Syrian mother and a child suffering from food poisoning pause at a border crossing on their way to a refugee camp in Turkey Photo: AP Mary Kenny: Page 16 Editorial Comment: Page 17

Cathedral survey in England and Wales reveals rise in Confessions






 THE NUMBER of Catholics attending Confession is on the rise, according to a survey carried out by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The Home Mission Desk reported that in a telephone and email survey of 22 Catholic cathedrals in England and Wales, 65 per cent reported an increase in the number of people attending Confession.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, the chairman of the bishops’ conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said Confession had changed since he was a boy, which might account for the increase in attendance. Cathedral deans or priests He told the Times: “I remember going as a child and simply reeling off a list of sins,

in residence said the reasons for the rise were the papal visit in 2010 and the election of Pope Francis in March. grave or less grave, and some- times making them up, just for something to say, and you’d use a list someone else had compiled and things that meant sometimes very little or noth- ing. ‘I’ve been angry’ – well, first of all, anger can’t be a sin, it’s an emotional response. So we are confessing things that weren’t sinful and sometimes confessing trivial things just for something to say. But now we have a much more individ- ual, personal conversation with the priest.”

Actor cousin of Che Star of The Wire to toplayPopeinfilm helphomelesscharity

Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, Kent, said: “I have also noticed a rise in Confes- sions, particularly among young adults who are sincerely trying to live a good life. It is important to preserve the core meaning of the sacrament which is the forgiveness of sins. We can always have a more general chat outside of Confession.”

Adams cartoon: Page 16 Editorial comment: Page 17

come up soon and look at the centre and do some fundraising for us.”

Plans for the film, which will have joint funding from Argentina and Spain, were revealed at the Venice Film Festival this week.

A SECOND cousin of Che Guevara is to play Pope Fran- cis in a new film about the Pontiff’s life. The film will be called A Priest’s Tale in Britain. Its Argentine producer, Pablo Bossi, said the film would attempt to understand “his decision to follow his voca- tion, and how he combined his faith and his reason, having studied as a Jesuit for 14 years before being ordained”.

BY MIGUEL CULLEN starring opposite Gael García Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries, a coming-of-age film about Che Guevara. BY ED WEST

The actor taking on the role of Francis is Rodrigo de la Serna, who is best known for The film will describe the Pope’s Italian-immigrant background and his work in the villa miseria slums of Buenos Aires. Kevin Bradley, director of St Wilfrid’s, said: “I wrote to him, and we got a lovely letter saying he’d be delighted, and he’ll

CATHOLIC actor Dominic West is to be the new ambas- sador for St Wilfrid’s Centre in Sheffield. St Wilfrid’s is trying to raise £1.8m to build a


The centre approached the star of The Wire, who was raised a few miles outside the city, with a letter asking if he would help. residential centre where homeless people will live for two


classes in the day centre, “learning how to cope, have some support, not being scared when the bills

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