Pope calls for global peace fast for Syria

Pope Francis has called for the world to unite in a day of fasting and prayer for Syria this Saturday and said 'God and history' would judge anyone using chemical weapons, reports AFP in the Herald Sun.

'May the cry for peace enter the hearts of everyone,' the Pope told tens of thousands of pilgrims at his traditional weekly blessing in the Vatican on Sunday. 'I condemn with particular force the use of chemical weapons. I still have in my mind and heart the terrible images of the past days,' he said.

'There is judgment from God and history on our actions that no one can escape,' he said, in his first explicit reference to the chemical arms claims.

He urged the international community to make 'every effort' to begin a process of dialogue in Syria. The pope said he would lead the prayers with a five-hour vigil in St Peter's Square on Saturday, just two days before the US Congress meets to debate possible strikes by the United States on Syria.

CNS reports that a committee of US bishops called for a political solution, and Catholic leaders in Europe warned military intervention could lead to an escalation of hostilities. In a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the chairman of the Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace reiterated what Pope Francis and Jordan's King Abdullah II said last week, that 'the path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option; to end the conflict in Syria.

The Catholic Herald reports that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has become the latest Church leader to speak out against a proposed military intervention in Syria. In a column in Austria’s Heute daily, Cardinal Schönborn said: “Taking up arms can only be a last resort.

FULL COVERAGE

'God and history will judge chemical weapons use': Pope (Herald Sun)

Western church leaders warn against intervention in Syria (CNS)

Pope Francis announces global prayer vigil for peace (CNA)

Cardinal Schonborn: 'what good can bombs do?' (The Catholic Herald)

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