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Indian Church adhering to Pope’s peace initiative
September 02, 2013 - The Church in India is adhering to the invitation of Pope Francis in observing a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world. Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) told AsiaNews that on Sept. 7th, the eve of the Nativity of Mary Queen of Peace, "the children, girls and all the youth of India will pray for their Syrian brothers and sisters", so that "through the intercession of Our Lady they may find the strength to have faith and not lose hope".
Below is an adaptation of Cardinal Oswald Gracias’ statement to AsiaNews:
I am writing to all our Bishops in India asking them to have the Day of Prayer and Fasting on 7th Sept. in solidarity with the Holy Father, for Peace in Syria, Middle East and All over the World and Peace in our own country. On 7th Sept., India's almost 2 million Catholic faithful will be in solidarity with the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Universal Church and pray and fast for those suffering in Syria - the people in Syria as they face potentially pernicious situation, which could have damaging consequences. War and violence is never an answer anywhere and anytime. Violence only begets violence and all are aware that the innocent, the poor and the marginalized have always to face the worst brunt of these man-made catastrophes. Our beloved millions of children of India will offer prayers for the children of Syria on 7th Sept 2013 in response to the Holy Father's appeal.
Today is the fourth day of the novena in preparation of the Feast of the Nativity of Mary and Catholic children of India bring flowers and candles to offer to our Blessed Virgin Mary, sweetly singing songs of Praise to the Blessed Mother. So this year, on the Vigil, special Prayers and Rosary will be said and hymns of peace will be sung for the Children of Syria. Our Syrian children, who are innocent victims, children who are orphaned or lost their homes and are forced to seek refuge in other countries - these children will be the ones left to rebuild their lives and their country. We assure them the love and prayers of the Children of India, who petition our and their Mother Mary, who Sang the ‘Magnificat’.
For decades, the Church in Bombay that has celebrated the girl child day, this year on the vigil of the Feast we pray for the girl child in Syria, the women and mothers in Syria and for the thousands more who are ripped from their homes and schools, left with painful memories of violence and confusion over what they've lost. We pray for the children of Syria who live in constant fear and uncertainty and have lost hope for the future- the children of India prayers for them
The Feast of the Nativity of Mary, is a very special day for the Church in India and for all people of good will. A novena precedes this great feast, and peoples of every caste and creed and people from all walks of life, attend the novena services, praying to the Mother of us all - the Blessed Virgin. Every church, and chapel, monastery and seminary, novitiate and religious institution that has novena services, will now pray on 7th Sept. for the volatility in Syria as announced by the Holy Father Pope Francis.
There is an overwhelming devotion of Mary in India. Mary is venerated, loved and petitioned by all generations and peoples in India . The maternal protection of Mary is sought by everyone. We all belong to the Mystical Body of Christ; there is intense suffering of our Syrian brothers and sisters, and the Church in India suffers intensely as we witness the current crisis and the tragedy unfold in Syria, that will have disastrous consequences for humanity as well.
India has a youthful face, and our youth are agonising over the sufferings of the Syrian youth. The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their future. Our Catholic Youth in India, will have a Prayer Vigil for the youth in Syria, that they may not lose hope, and that through the powerful intercession of Mary they may have reason to hope. War and violence are never an answer anywhere and anytime. Violence only begets violence and all are aware that the innocent, the poor and the marginalized have always to face the worst brunt of these man-made catastrophes. Dialogue is the only way forward and peace negotiations are the only hope for avoiding yet another worst-case scenario of humanitarian crisis.
The Church in India intercedes also to our own Mother Teresa of Kolkata, and what she said in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982: "I have never been in a war before, but I have seen famine and death. I was asking (myself), 'What do they feel when they do this?' I don't understand it. They are all children of God. Why do they do it? I don't understand".