Faithful urged: Heed Pope’s call to pray, fast for Syria

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MANILA, Sept. 8, 2013—The head of Manila’s Roman Catholic Church on Saturday urged Filipinos to shun individualism and be one with the world in heeding the call of the Supreme Pontiff to offer prayers and sacrifices for the restoration of peace in Syria. 

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Filipinos must unite with the whole world in seeking an end not only to the Syrian conflict that has killed thousands of people, but to other unrests as well that have continuously plagued various nations with anarchy and violence.  

“It is time for us, Filipinos, to be part of the whole world in pushing for this cause,” Tagle said in his talk during the monthly Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS) held at the Cardinal Sin Auditorium of the Paco Catholic School. 

Citing affected individuals in the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Cambodia, and East Timor, Tagle said: “We are all united as one. We might be geographically separated from each other, but we are all united by the virtue of our humanity.” 

“The wrath of violence in Syria affects thousands of our brothers and sisters. We could not just act indifferently and claim that since they are geographically far from us, we are not affected by this phenomenon,” he added. 

The prelate also called on the faithful to turn away from individualism and be more sensitive to the plight of suffering individuals in the Middle East. 

“Thousands of Filipinos might also be affected by this unrest…We should not turn ourselves away from this, especially now that the world is ruled by great interdependence—move one part and everything gets affected,” Tagle added. 

Pope Francis earlier called for the world to unite and join him on the eve of September 7, Saturday, in St. Peter’s Square to pray for peace in Syria and other areas ridden by conflict. 

This move by the Supreme Pontiff was made to oppose the violence and possible military strikes against the Syrian regime pushed by the United States and France, which could escalate the unrest into a worse conflict that could do greater harm to innocent individuals in the Middle East. 

“It is true that it is hard to remove individualism from our day-to-day living. But we should be reminded that it is in the act of selfishly living on our own, totally disregarding others, is where hardships and destruction of the world root from,” Tagle said. 

Instead of resorting to violence, Tagle encouraged the people to give the “gift of self” to help resolve conflicts in the Middle East. 

“Instead of exchanging guns, missiles, and ammunitions, why don’t we give each other the gift of self?” he asked the faithful, urging them to do little acts of sacrifice for others. 

“Let us relate our minds, hearts, and even our physical bodies to our brothers and sisters in Syria. The temporary hunger you will feel in fasting is nothing compared to what they are going through,” he said. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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