Best of 2013. August and September: Pope calls for peace in Syria
Pope Francis broke with a long-standing tradition to vacation at Castel Gandolfo in the summer. Instead he spent the scorching "ferragostoâ? in Rome, working. On August 8, he published a motu proprio to strengthen measures issued by Benedict XVI in 2010, to prevent money laundering and financing terrorism.
During this month, the Pope welcomed several high profile guests. They included the Italy and Argentina soccer teams at the Vatican on the 13th. The two squads faced off in a friendly match in honor of Pope Francis. Argentina took home the win. As superstars like Messi and Buffon looked on, the Pope asked the players to remember that, above all, they are men, before idols.
"Even though you are well known, always remember to be men, in sport and in life. Men, who display humanity.â?
On August 15, Pope Francis was warmly welcomed to Castel Gandolfo to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Pope called for an end to violence in Egypt, where many churches came under attack.
Another ongoing conflict that deepened during this time was the civil war in Syria. On the Angelus from August 25, the Pope called for peaceful solutions to the conflict.
"The increase in violence in a war between brothers, with the proliferation of massacres and atrocities, that we all have been able to see in the terrible images of these days, leads me once again raise my voice that the clatter of arms may cease. It is not confrontation that offers hope to resolve problems, but rather the ability to meet and dialogue.â?
As August came to an end, the Pope named as the Vatican's new Secretary of State Italian Pietro Parolin, the Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela.
In September, a possible military intervention in Syria gained momentum over accusations of the use of chemical weapons. The Pope intensified his efforts to prevent further violence. He called for an international day of prayer and vigil for peace. On September 7, more than 100,000 people at St. Peter's Square responded to his call.
"Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation â?? these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world.â?
Another highlight was a letter Pope Francis wrote to journalist and self-professed atheist Eugenio Scalfari, founder of the "La Repubblicaâ? newspaper. He responded to a several doubts on faith Scalfari wrote for his paper after the Pope's first encyclical was published.
September ended with two special dates. On September 21, Pope Francis celebrated his 60th anniversary of his vocational calling. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was only 17 year old when he decided he wanted to become a priest. On September 30, a long-awaited announcement finally came: the Pope would canonize John Paul II and John XXII on April 27, 2014.