International Children’s Day
Pope Francis invites children all over the world to join peace prayer for Syria
Several hundred children will gather in each of the cities Syrian cities of Damascus, Homs, Tartus, Marmarita and Aleppo to pray together, for peace.
In Rome, during the Angelus prayer on Sunday ( May 29) in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis drew attention to the children in Syria who will be holding a prayer day for peace in Syria on June 1 – “International Children’s Day.” The Holy Father invited the world’s children to take part in this global prayer campaign saying: “Syrian children invite the children of the world to join their prayer for peace.”
In a joint message, the Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of the country took up the initiative of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to observe this day as a children’s day of prayer for peace. Father Andrzej Halemba, head of the Middle East section of Aid to the Church in Need, said, “Children are the most pitiful victims of this war, but they’re also the ones who are closer to God, their appeal will be heard by God, and hopefully it will move the hearts of those waging this war.”
“Several hundred children will gather in each of the cities Syrian cities of Damascus, Homs, Tartus, Marmarita and Aleppo to pray together for peace. Throughout the day, various events and joint prayers will be held, including processions for peace, during which the children will carry pictures and statues of the Christ child dressed as a king, bearing a globe in His left hand and blessing the world with the right.” The patriarchs have chosen the Christ child to be the “patron” of this day of prayer for peace because He “came to bring peace” and was heralded by the Prophet Isaiah as the “Prince of Peace”. They said that children all over the world – especially in schools and parishes – should participate in this campaign.
Aid to the Church in Need has a joint letter written to Pope Francis by Bishop Abdo Arbach, the Melkite Catholic bishop of Homs, and the Orthodox Bishop Selvanos of Homs in the name of all of the city’s children. In this letter, the children thank the pope for his efforts for peace in Syria and ask for his prayers and “to save them from the maelstrom of hate, from the behemoths of wrath and from those who deal with human organs,” because they, the children, are “the first victims of these crimes.” They also wrote, “We would like to see our country once again become the country of happiness and love it used to be, in which we will plant olive trees and sow wheat, and in which there is no burnt soil on which the canons and rocket launchers of hate stand.”
Hold them to your heart
You who have promised them the Kingdom of Heaven
To those who would be as they are.
– Christian Patriarchs of Syria-
By Eva Maria Kolmann, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada