'No more war,' says Pope Francis on Twitter
Wide support for pontiff's call to fast and pray for peace02 September, 16:38
During Sunday's Mass in St Peter's Square, the Argentine pontiff called for a fasting and prayer for peace "in Syria, in the entire Mideast region, and throughout the whole world" to be held next Saturday. "On the 7th of September, here (in St Peter's Square), from 7 pm until midnight, we will gather together in prayer, in a spirit of penitence, to ask from God this great gift [of peace] for the beloved Syrian nation and for all the situations of conflict and violence in the world", Pope Francis said.
Francis also invited non-Catholic Christians and non-Christian believers to participate in ways they feel are appropriate. "We want a peaceful world...we want to be men and women of peace," he said.
"The day of prayer announced by the pope is an extraordinary gesture of peace, which confirms the great love of Francis for this battered land," Gregory III, Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, told missionary news agency AsiaNews on Monday.
"We invite all Catholic, Orthodox, Muslims and non-believers to pray with us for peace in Syria and the Middle East," Gregory said.
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said that it was "probable" that she too would join in the fast for peace.
Together with her Radical party, the minister said that she was "evaluating the possibility of fasting for three days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday" in support of a solution in Syria.
Pope Francis also called on all parties "to seek negotiations" and urged the international community to take concrete steps to end conflicts, especially the war in Syria. "Humanity needs to see gestures of peace and to hear words of hope," Francis said.
The pontiff also issued a forceful condemnation of the use of chemical weapons. "There is the judgment of God, and also the judgment of history, upon our actions - judgments from which there is no escaping," he said. Armed intervention in Syria increases "the risk of deflagration", and that the violence and conflict "will spread to other countries," Mons. Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said.
"As Pope Francis made understood...the dramatic developments that lie ahead affect the world as a whole," he said.
"The conflict in Syria contains all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions. The alternative can only be that of rationality with initiatives based on dialogue and negotiation," Toso said.
Earlier on Monday at a mass held in Rome's Santa Marta (Saint Martha) residence, Pope Francis spoke out on the evils of gossip and backbiting, saying that words can kill.
"Those in a community who talk about brothers, members of the community, they want to kill", he said.
The pontiff said that as with Jesus when he arrived in Nazareth, relationships that begin with "admiration" can finish with a crime because of "jealousy and envy".
"This is not (only) something that happened 2,000 years ago. It happens every day in our hearts...when it is said in a community 'how great this person is who has come to us'...but then gossip starts and it ends in skinning the person," Francis said. "Where there is God, there is no hate, envy or jealousy.
Nor are there those who want to kill with gossip," the pope said.