Syria: Did the Pope’s Prayer Work?

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shutterstock_153171473I don’t know if you noticed, but the crisis in Syria, which threatened to draw the major world powers into a nasty situation, has disappeared from the front pages. It has indeed cooled. No, it hasn’t subsided completely, and the civil war in Syria is far from over, but the major international fiasco, which drew in America, Russia, Britain, France, and others, seems to be over for now.

Well, call it a coincidence, if you’d like, but I cannot help but note—in all honesty—that the tempest that was brewing in Syria stopped just after Pope Francis’s September 7 peace vigil. It really did.

Recall that the pope had called for a day of fasting and prayer. A prayer gathering commenced at St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. to midnight, on the vigil of the birth of Mary, the Queen of Peace. Pope Francis called on all of Mary’s children, Christians and Muslims alike, to join. Touched by this gesture was the Grand Mufti of Syria, the spiritual leader of Syrian Sunni Muslims. He asked his fellow Muslims in Damascus to “welcome the appeal to pray for peace in Syria extended by the pope to all religions.” He invited them to pray for peace simultaneously and in communion with Pope Francis and to do so in mosques throughout Syria. In striking language, speaking of the pope as a “father,” the mufti stated that “the pope is a father who cares about the future of the Syrian people.” In addition to these Sunnis, additional Muslim groups and other Syrians of various faiths joined Pope Francis in prayer.

Did it work? I certainly can’t say it didn’t.

Now, I’m not naïve. The civil war hasn’t ended in Syria. The persecution of ancient Christians by radical Islamists is just ramping up. The authoritarian regime and jihadists will continue to murder each other. Sin has not ended. But for now, the ominous melee that threatened to draw in America and the major powers has cooled. Perhaps it really was an answer to prayer.
image: Iacopo Guidi /

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • haubrock

    “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29

  • Myshkin

    This is exactly what I’d been telling friends. It is not a coincidence!

    Even the Muslims’ prayers count, under Pope Francis’s urging.

    Temporally, it was the following Monday, the 9th, that U.S. Sec’y of State John Kerry made his so-called “blunder,” in which he stated publicly that the US would not attack if Syria were to give up all its chemical weapons, which Kerry then said “of course isn’t going to happen.” Right after, Putin of Russia stepped in to say that Syria would do exactly that! Can’t help but thinking that the Holy Spirit prompted even our disreputable Sec’y State to “blunder.”

  • JMC

    I suspect that the key here is that so many did it *simultaneously and in union* with the Pope. Just think of the true peace that will break out when the Pope, simultaneously and in union with all the bishops in the world, consecrates Russia to the Immaculate Heart. Our Lady promised that, once this is done, Russia will be converted and the world will be granted a period of peace. She asked that *all* people, not just Catholics, pray and sacrifice for the conversion of sinners. If Muslims following the Grand Mufti did this, I bet they would see at least a slowing down of the radical Islamist movement.
    It is also of note that it was around this time that the Catholic bishops of Lebanon were joined by the bishops of Syria in consecrating those two nations, and the entire Middle East, to the Immaculate Heart. I think that also had a great deal to do with the cooling of the crisis.
    We should all pray that Pope Francis takes this hint from Heaven to heart and performs the consecration of Russia soon.

  • vito

    It’s just that the current leader of the most powerful nation of the world is much more peaceful and wise than his lunatic predecessor, who did not listen to the Pope 10 years ago when he explicitly and repeatedly told the US not to attack Iraq, which not surprisingly turned out to be complete fiasco. Many years of tragedy and hundreds of thousands of lives could have been spared.

  • Peter Nyikos

    On the other hand, Iraq is free of a dictator without having fallen into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, who are a real threat in Syria. There is also this difference: Saddam used poison gas against the Kurds long before Bush finally decided to act, and it was because of Saddam’s continued unwillingness to cooperate with inspectors.

    I do agree, however, that Bush attacked Iraq far too early; he should have waited until he could get more international cooperation. This is the kind of cooperation that Obama got after realizing how unpopular an attack would be with the American people on all parts of the political spectrum.

  • Peter Nyikos

    I was especially glad to read how the Grand Mufti of Syria supported the Pope in the search for peace. This is the kind of moderate Islamic voice we need to hear more of. It is a shame how, in countries dominated by Islamists, Muslims who try to oppose terrorism are often prosecuted.

  • RachaelM

    The way the media cycle works is a glut of reporting occurs about a crisis situation (or one that the media has created), and then it’s on to the next news crisis somewhere else. The subject of the first crisis? Never gets revisited or heard from again. Did the Syria crisis resolve? You’ll have to read the blogs of people who are actually there to know.