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Syrian Christians fast and pray for peace with Pope Francis



Fasting and prayer Services were held by Christians around the world, including in Jerusalem and in Syria. Responding to Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer and fasting, Hundreds of Syrian Christians gathered in Damascus on Saturday to pray for peace and protest against possible U.S. military intervention. Syria's conflict has grown increasingly sectarian since it started as a peaceful uprising in March 2011 and then evolved into an armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. But during a six-hour service at the al-Zeitouna Church, Syrian-born Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham appealed to Christians to stay in Syria despite the war.
At the Damascus service Laham also made a reference to the recent violence in Maaloula, a historic Christian town in the centre of the country where some inhabitants still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. "If Maaloula has been hurt, then it is a call for the world to hear: 'Look, this place, this heritage that you love so much, look what they have done to it'," Laham said. He insistently implored Syrian clergy and Christians to resist the temptation to emigrate, begging them to stay in the town. As Laham implored the Muslim majority not to consider Christians what he called "a fifth column", he asked “If we leave, who will build Syria?"




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