VATICAN CITY — A week after nearly 100,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square in response to Pope Francis’s call for a peace prayer vigil for Syria, Francis has admitted he is surprised that the prayer for peace “seems to be working.”
“This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!” declared the pope last week.
The four-hour prayer vigil—the first of its kind in St. Peter’s Square—took place the same day that U.S. Sec. John Kerry met with European leaders to present President Barack Obama’s case for a military strike against Syria. Since then, the president has agreed to delay his plans for war in order to give Bashar al-Assad a chance to relinquish his chemical weapons to the international community.
“The Holy See didn’t really see this coming, but we are all quite pleased with the results,” said Vatican spokesman Thomas Rosica. “You have to understand: even many of the Vatican’s most faithful think of prayer as simply a kind gesture. The idea of prayer being a results-driven enterprise went out of date several hundred years ago.”
“But it cannot be denied,” added Rosica, “the drums of war have been silenced by Pope Francis’s prayer vigil. We fear that without such a prayer, the world would be at war by now.”
Rosica and other Vatican officials credited the prayer vigil’s success to its location within Vatican walls. “Past calls for peace have taken place in places like Assissi, which is almost two hundred kilometers away. It’s still holy, but not as holy as St. Peter’s here in Rome,” said Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. “I just wish we would have tried this during World War II.”
When Mamberti was reminded that Syria would still be embroiled in civil war regardless of U.S. intervention, he merely said, “Sometimes even God moves one step at a time.”