As Congress debates options for military action in Syria, the Catholic Church is making a case for peace.
As suggested by Pope Francis, the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg will hold a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria on Saturday.
"I think that it's always imperative that you take a look at peaceful resolution to difficulties," said Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who will celebrate a special Mass at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bishop John B. McDowell auditorium in O'Connor Hall at Saint Paul Seminary in Crafton.
Following the Mass will be exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the auditorium until Bishop Zubik offers closing Benediction at midnight.
"The purpose of the Mass will be to pray for justice and peace, and the homily will be reflective of that," said Bishop Zubik, adding that the Diocese held a similar event in 2009 during the G-20 summit. "We'd like as many people as possible to know about it."
Pope Francis has spoken forcefully in the past week through sermons and social media about the conflict in Syria. "My heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming," the pope said Sunday in what observers believe to be a reference to the proposed airstrikes.
In the Greensburg Diocese on Saturday, The day of fasting and prayer will be observed in parishes and at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. A 5:30 p.m. Mass at the cathedral will be followed by exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until 9 p.m., when prayer and benediction will begin, concluded with a reflection by Father Larry J. Kulick, vicar general of the diocese.
A petition for the people of Syria and a prayer for the people of Syria have been forwarded to parishes for use this Saturday and beyond.
Other denominations and faiths are also starting to mobilize efforts about military action in Syria.
The Presbyterian Office of Public Witness called for Presbyterians to contact members of Congress and express opposition to an authorization of military force against Syria. The Antiochian Orthodox Church, which is based in Syria and has a chapel in Oakland, has urged its members to do the same.
At the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, outreach coordinator Julie Webb said she believed members would be participating in a protest against threatened U.S. airstrikes in Syria at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Schenley Plaza.
Anya Sostek: email@example.com or 412-263-1308.