Just a week ago, on September 1, Pope Francis made a global appeal, asking everyone -- regardless of religion or location -- to fast and pray on Saturday for world peace, and particularly for peace in Syria.
As the Pope raised his hands in prayer, so did many Pakistani Christians. Scores of men, women and children turned up to attend prayers and fasted with gusto on the day, barely 24 hours before Catholics were set to observe Mother Mary’s birthday celebrations.
Yearning for concord
An unusually large congregation was seen at evening mass at St Jude’s Church, whose premises house a grotto dedicated to Mother Mary.
“On the call of the pontiff for peace all over the world, particularly in Syria, people have observed a fast, and we’re offering a special prayer,” said Father Thomas Gulfam, the ageing parish priest at St Jude’s Church in the North Nazimabad neighbourhood. “If America attacks Syria, it might be the start of a third world war. May God save us from this.”
Fifteen-year-old Kainat, too, observed the fast, and attended the special prayer.
“I’m fasting for peace because the Pope has asked for it,” she declared simply.
Catholic churches throughout the country appealed to community members to participate in the global initiative.
“The attack on Syria might lead to a world war on communal basis, as the Muslim states might go with Syria and Western states may support America,” said a worried Father Gulfam. “So today we request Mother Mary to intercede for peace, too.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2013.
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