By Christopher Wells
“Advent is a time for hope,” Pope Francis said at the Angelus on Sunday. “At this time, I would like to make my own the hope of peace of the children of Syria." The Holy Father added his voice to an initiative of the international charitable foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), by lighting a candle to officially kick off their “Candles for Peace in Syria” Campaign.
Flames of hope
“May these flames of hope dispel the darkness of war,” the Pope exclaimed. “Let us pray and help Christians to remain in Syria and the Middle East as witnesses of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation.” Pope Francis extended his appeal, saying “May the flame of hope also reach all those who are suffering in these days from conflicts and tensions in various other parts of the world, near and far.” He prayed that “the prayer of the Church” might “help them feel the closeness of the faithful God”; and might “touch every conscience for a sincere commitment for peace.”
The Holy Father also prayed that God might "forgive those who make war, those who make weapons to destroy one another" and the the Lord "might convert their hearts." Concluding his prayer, the Pope led the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square in the recitation of the Hail Mary "for peace in beloved Syria."
Spreading the message of peace
In a press statement, Aid to the Church in Need said it is “calling on people of goodwill all over the world to respond to this cry of peace from the children of Syria, among other things by lighting a candle … in order to spread this message of peace from the children of Syria and send a message of hope during the season of Advent.”
The Pope’s candle
ACN’s statement noted that the candle lighted by the Pope was decorated by craftsman from the Old City of Damascus, and “also bears the photos of some 40 children, most of them from Aleppo, together with the logo of the campaign.”
For more information on ACN's work in Syria, and the "Candles for Peace in Syria" Campaign, please visit: