Syria: Did the Pope’s Prayer Work?

Kengor_Catholic_Syria Pope Francis_100713

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 /

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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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