On 10 September 2014, Pope Francis, in his greetings in various languages following the catechesis of his general audience, addressed, among others, the Arab-speaking faithful and in particular those from Syria and the Middle East, to remind them that the Church, following the example of her Master, excels in mercy: “she faces hatred with love, vanquishes violence with forgiveness, and responds to weapons with prayer”.
He added, “May the Lord reward your faithfulness, inspire you with courage in the struggle against the forces of evil, and open the eyes of those who have been blinded by evil, so that they may soon see the light of truth and repent for the mistakes they have made. May the Lord bless you and protect you always”.
Below are details of some of the statements made and some of the initiatives being undertaken in support of Christians in Iraq and in the wider Middle East by the Church and its agencies in Ireland:
Statement by Cardinal Brady calling for prayers for peace in Iraq
Bishop John McAreavey calls for prayers for peace in the Middle East
Prayers for Peace Resource
Trocaire’s emergency aid to civilians trapped in Iraq crisis
Trócaire’s emergency aid for people affected by violence in Gaza
Special collection for Trócaire’s humanitarian work in Syria
You are invited to pray the following prayer for peace:
Prayer for Peace by Pope Francis
Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried… But our efforts have been in vain.
Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: “Never again war!”; “With war everything is lost”. Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarrelling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!