Sanctions hurting pediatric heart patients in Syria

Pope leads general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis calling for world peace and a negotiated solution to the “human tragedy” unfolding in Syria. (CNS photo by Paul Haring) (Sept. 18, 2013)

VATICAN CITY — Only dialogue and negotiations can repair “the human tragedy” that continues to unfold in Syria, Pope Francis said today at his weekly general audience.

He urged people to continue to pray for peace in the world and to find “diplomatic and political solutions” to the wars raging worldwide.

While a U.S. strike on Syria is no longer imminent, the situation there remains dire as sanctions and shortages can wreak just as much havoc as bombs and gunfire.

One example is the impact on medical care. The only pediatric clinic specializing in cardiac surgery in all of Syria has launched an urgent appeal for help. The Damascus-based Continue reading

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Papal peace with a #hashtag

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis isn’t only using traditional means of public addresses and diplomatic machinery to prevent military intervention in Syria.

twitter-bird-white-on-blue

Twitter bird logo.

Like the young people during the Arab Spring, the pope has picked up and is running with the modern method of tweeting for peace, turning the Twitter bird into a dove.

The past several days have seen a flurry of papal appeals, going out to his millions of followers and all tagged with #PrayforPeace:

Children at risk of becoming a ‘lost generation’

Syrian refugees carry belongings as they enter Turkey

Syrian refugees enter a Turkish border gate Sept. 4. The UNHCR said there had been a near tenfold increase over the past 12 months in the number of refugees crossing into bordering countries. (CNS photo/Umit Bektas, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The latest statistics out by the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees say that more than 2 million Syrians have fled their country with countless others internally displaced.

This UN graphic gives the tragedy some frightening details, showing how in less than six months, the number of refugees has doubled. Continue reading

Fast facts for fasting

Woman prays on Ash Wednesday at New York church

A woman prays on Ash Wednesday at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) (Feb. 13, 2013)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting and prayer tomorrow. And to help people prepare, the U.S. bishops have posted a quick guide on what fasting entails:

For the two days of the year when the Church requires fasting of Catholics (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), the parameters of the fast are given as: “When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal.” Catholics may, of course, eat less, but this is considered the minimum required.   Continue reading

Prayer Vigil schedule & liturgical booklet

FILE PHOTO OF FAITHFUL ATTENDING CANDLELIGHT VIGIL IN ST. PETER'S SQUARE TO MARK 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF OPENING OF SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL

People attending a candlelight vigil in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 11, 2012 marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Whether you plan on following tomorrow’s Prayer for Peace vigil on TV, online or in person in St. Peter’s Square, a schedule of Saturday’s events will come in handy. As well as the official liturgical booklet.

Here is a breakdown of what will be happening and when: Continue reading

Pope Francis tweets for peace