Catholics answer Pope Francis’ call for Hour of Prayer, fasting and penance for world peace

26 Oct 2023


  • Archbishop Eamon Martin: “We call it the Holy Land and yet these days it seems to have become an unholy cauldron of division, blame and recrimination.”  

Tomorrow in Ireland, and throughout the universal Church, Catholics will follow the invitation of Pope Francis – see below – to participate in a day of prayer, fasting and penance for peace in the world. 
Parish priests are arranging a special hour of prayer for peace in churches, and these will remain open during the day to allow people pray at their convenience.  Parishioners are asked to check locally for details on the ‘Hour of Prayer for Peace’.  Over the weekend, Masses will also include this special intention for peace in the world. 

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, said, “For several weeks now, the news has been dominated by the horror of war, terror, death and destruction in Israel and Palestine.  Our minds are troubled and our hearts are saddened.  We look on, feeling powerless to do anything except pray and hope. 
“The people of the Holy Land – be they Israelis or Palestinians – are caught in the middle of this terrible and traumatic time – there seems to be no way out – with so much anger, hatred, desire for revenge.  Those of us looking on from Ireland wonder: how can this happen?  How will it all end? 
“We call it the Holy Land and yet these days it seems to have become an unholy cauldron of division, blame and recrimination.  The brutal atrocities committed by Hamas in southern Israel on 7 October showed us the worst of humanity, and those shocking attacks have led to the current merciless bombardment by Israeli forces of Gaza – pulverising neighbourhoods and leaving more than two million people fearful and desperate to survive without access to adequate food, water or medical help. 
“This cycle of pointless pain and violence has to stop.  The devil must be gloating to see the amount of anger and resentment between people that is increasing and multiplying fuelled by death and destruction.
“At a time like this we turn to Christ, the Prince of Peace, to turn hearts away from violence and towards the paths of peace.  Pope Francis has invited people all over the world to join in a day of prayer and sacrifice this Friday for peace in the world. 
“People across the world love the Holy Land  – people of every nation and creed.  Let us all unite in a great cry to heaven this Friday for an end to war and violence wherever it happens.”
Archbishop Martin concluded, “Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.”
This week the Holy Father Pope Francis stated,“our thoughts turn to Palestine and Israel.  The number of victims is rising and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please, let everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian disaster.
“The possible widening of the conflict is disturbing, while so many war fronts are already open in the world.  May weapons fall silent!  Let us heed the cry for peace of populations, of the people, of the children!  Brothers and sisters, war does not solve any problem: it sows only death and destruction, foments hate and proliferates revenge.  War cancels out the future.  I urge believers to take just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not with words – with prayer, with total dedication.
“With this in mind, I have decided to call for a day of fasting and prayer, of penance, on Friday 27 October, to which I invite sisters and brothers of the various Christian denominations, those belonging to other religions and all those who have at heart the cause of peace in the world, to join in as they see fit.  That evening, at 6.00pm, at Saint Peter’s, we will spend an hour of prayer, in a spirit of penance, to implore peace in our time, peace in this world.  I ask all the particular Churches to participate by arranging similar activities involving the People of God.”
On 24 October, in a letter to his entire diocese, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzabella, stated, “For over two weeks now, we have been inundated with images of horrors, which have reawakened ancient traumas, opened new wounds, and made pain, frustration and anger explode within all of us.  Much seems to speak of death and endless hatred.  So many ‘whys’ overlap in our minds, adding to our sense of bewilderment … the main thing we Christians can do at this time: pray, do penance, intercede.  For this, we thank the Holy Father from the bottom of our hearts.”
Notes to Editors

  • A day of prayer, fasting and penance involves praying individually, with family and/or in our community as well as Scripture reading; fasting includes giving up certain foods; opportunity for penance means availing of the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession; examples of charitable acts are donating to Trócaire and other charities, as well as the giving of your time to help your own family, neighbour, school or parish.