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Prayer for peace is never in vain – Pope Francis’ concerned appeal to break the spiral of violence in the Holy Land

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“Now, Lord, help us! Grant us peace, teach us peace, guide us toward peace. Open our eyes and our hearts and grant us the courage to say: ‘no more war!’; ‘with war all is destroyed’!. Instill in us the courage to perform concrete actions to build peace…. Make us willing to listen to the cry of our citizens who ask that our arms be transformed into instruments of peace, our fears to trust and our tensions to forgiveness”. This, on Sunday, 13 July, was Pope Francis’ prayer for peace in the Holy Land. Once again the Pontiff prays and asks that others pray for peace, despite the fact that the language spoken in those lands still have the acrid taste of hate, of violence, of the blood of many innocent people.

To all the faithful gathered for the Angelus in St Peter’s Square, he stated “I direct a concerned appeal to all of you to continue to pray with persistence for peace in the Holy Land, in light of the tragic events of these last days”.

And, recalling the encounter of 8 June with Patriarch Bartholomaios, President Peres and President Abbas, “with whom we invoked the gift of peace together and heard the call to break the spiral of hate and violence”, he reaffirmed forcefully that, although one could think “ that this meeting was in vain”, it is in fact “prayer which helps us not to allow ourselves to be defeated by evil, nor to accept violence and hate prevailing over dialogue and reconciliation”.

Thus he made a double appeal. He called upon the interested parties and all local and national political leaders “not to spare prayer or any effort to end every hostility and seek the desired peace for the good of all”; and to the faithful: to follow the example of the Virgin Mary, of her silent prayer. And the Square responded with an eloquent silence.

Shortly before Pope Francis had recalled the the parable of the sower who sows seed in whichever type of soil, but only one of them bears fruit. It is important to continue sowing good seed, then the soil will bear fruit. This soil, however, needs to be tilled.

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