In his general audience at St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Pope Francis declared Oct. 27 a day of fasting, penance and prayer for peace in the Holy Land.
“The number of victims is growing and the situation in Gaza is desperate,” said the pontiff.
He urged Catholics to take the side of peace in the conflict, not with words, but with “prayer and total dedication.”
On Oct. 7, over 1,400 Israeli civilians were killed in a terrorist attack by Hamas, the extremist group controlling the Gaza strip. In turn, the overwhelming military response by Israel has left thousands of Palestinians dead, wounded or homeless. As Israel prepares for a ground invasion, Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israeli territory.
“Lay down weapons and heed the cries for peace from the poor, the people and the innocent children. War solves no problems,” said Pope Francis. “It only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future.”
At 6 p.m. in Rome, the Pope will lead an hourlong prayer for peace in St. Peter’s Square. Watch the live stream on the Vatican website.
For members of the Church in the U.S., fasting consists of one meal with two smaller meals and abstinence from meat. Other suggestions for prayer and penance include praying a rosary, attending a holy hour, going to confession, attending adoration or attending Mass.