Nearly 100,000 people prayed for peace alongside Pope Francis during Saturdays vigil. The same number as the victims killed during two and a half years of violence in Syria.The large crowds gathered at St. Peters Square includedworshipers of non-Christian faiths, who alsocondemned violence and expressed their wishes for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
IMAM YAHYA PALLAVICINI
Vice President, Muslim Community in Italy
"It's a religious duty, being here in Rome and being a Muslim Westerner, to try to create bridges, participating in all these occasions that can really show the true reality of spirituality and deep reason of life.”
During the prayer service, local Muslim leaders could be seen kneeling alongside Catholics and other Christians, as Pope Francis denounced war as a defeat on humanity.
In addition to Islam, adherents to Hinduism wanted to make themselves visible to add their voices to the chorus clamoring for peace.
Hare Krishna Center (Italy)
"The miracle that we are already here, all types of people: Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, materialists; it's already a success. This has become a moment of peace.”
They echoed the Pope's calls to look after each other. But they went on to say that humans must also look after all living things, including plants and animals, to live in peace.
For native Syrians at the event, this show of solidarity was greatly welcomed. They too were at the event, hoping that the entire world grasps the Pope's message.
"Civilians in Syria, those that are not on the streets fighting, are in front of their televisions, waiting for news that life will go back to normal.”
"I hope everyone listens to the Pope's words. Right now, I feel ashamed to be Muslim. I feel ashamed that Muslims, that great Muslim powers, want to attack Syria. And we see that the Pope is against that. Thank you to the Pope.”
Whether the Pope's words will resonate is still unclear. But with several faiths coming together, the hope is that their growing voices of restraint and peaceful dialogue, will put an end to a bloody war. And that world leaders will realize that violence is not solved with violence.