Pope Francis asks Mary to ‘convert those who fuel and foment conflict’

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Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra and Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, top officials in the Vatican Secretariat of State, pray as Pope Francis presides over a prayer for peace on Thursday, Oct. 27, in St. Peter’s Basilica with members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican. CNS photo/Lola Gomez

VATICAN CITY. Pope Francis asked Mary to look mercifully upon the human family, “which has strayed from the path of peace,” and entrusted to her protection the world’s regions and nations at war.

“Queen of Peace, you suffer with us and for us, as you see so many of your children suffering from the conflicts and wars that are tearing our world apart,” the pope said during a prayer service for peace in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 27.

“At this dark hour – this is a dark hour, mother – we submerge ourselves in your luminous eyes, we entrust ourselves to your heart, sensitive to our problems,” he said, looking at an icon of Mary.

With a black-beaded rosary in hand, Pope Francis prayed with cardinals, bishops and delegates of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops, recalling Mary’s strength and initiative from several Gospel scenes – the visitation, the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus’ passion and resurrection.

“Now, mother, once more take the initiative for us, in these times rent by conflicts and waste by the fire of arms,” the pope said. “Teach us to cherish and care for life – each and every human life! – and to repudiate the folly of war, which sows death and eliminates the future.”

Pope Francis asked Mary to “touch the hearts of those imprisoned by hatred, convert those who fuel and foment conflict.”

“Queen of all peoples, reconcile your children, seduced by evil, blinded by power and hate,” he said.

The pope also asked her to care for the victims of war: children, the elderly and isolated, the sick and wounded and those forced to abandon their homeland and loved ones due to conflict.

“To you we consecrate our world, especially those countries and regions at war,” the pope said without naming any particular nation or region. “To you we consecrate the Church, so that in her witness to the love of Jesus before the world, she may be a sign of harmony and an instrument of peace.”

Present on the altar was an icon of Mary, “Salus Populi Romani,” which has been present on the stage of the Vatican audience hall where the assembly of the synod on synodality has been held.

Among the cardinals present for the ceremony was Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, the pope’s Ukraine peace envoy and a synod delegate. Ambassadors to the Holy See from many nations also attended.

On the eve of the last working day of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis asked Mary to “help us preserve unity in the Church and to be artisans of communion in our world.”

“Make us realize once more the importance of the role we play,” he said, “strengthen our sense of responsibility for the cause of peace as men and women called to pray, worship, intercede and make reparation for the whole human race.”

After Pope Francis’ prayer for peace, the Eucharist was exposed on the basilica’s main altar, and a moment for silent prayer in adoration was observed.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, led benediction, blessing the people gathered in the basilica by making the sign of the cross with the monstrance, praying “let us adore with living faith the holy mystery of your body and your blood.”

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