Pope Francis has called on Catholics and everyone who desires peace the world over to participate in a day of prayer, fasting, and penance on Friday, October 27, 2023.
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to cause turmoil in the Holy Land, and so many other wars and conflicts continue to rage on, Catholics have the unique opportunity to participate in the pursuit of peace. Pope Francis has called on Catholics the world over to fast, pray, and do penance for the intention of a peaceful resolution to the war.
During his general audience on October 18, the Holy Father called for a World Day of Prayer, scheduled to take place on Friday, October 27. At the audience, Pope Francis stated that “the situation in Gaza is desperate,” and he lamented the growing number of casualties.
I have decided to declare Friday, 27 October, a day of fasting, penance and prayer for #peace. I invite the various Christian confessions, members of other religious, and all who hold the cause of peace in the world at heart to participate.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 18, 2023
Pope Francis stated:
“Lay down weapons and heed the cries for peace from the poor, the people, and the innocent children. War solves no problems,” he said. “It only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future, it erases the future.”
The Pope went on to direct the faithful to take no side in this conflict but the side of peace and to do so “with prayer and with total dedication.” He then announced that October 27 will be a World Day of Prayer for peace, inviting not just Catholics, but all Christian denominations to take part. On the day, Pope Francis himself will preside over a Holy Hour at 6 p.m. from St. Peter’s Square.
He invited all local Churches to organize similar events.
Catholic dioceses and archdioceses from around the world are lending their support to the initiative. In the Archdiocese of Manila, Vice Chancellor Fr. Carmelo Arada Jr. was quick to release a circular to organize the day of prayer and fasting. War victims have found strong support in the Philippines, where a candle lighting and prayer rally was recently held at Quezon Memorial Circle, in Manila. Several Filipino citizens visiting Israel have been confirmed to have been killed in the conflict by the Department of Foreign affairs.
Fr. Arada Jr. wrote:
“We encourage our communities to organize prayer initiatives for this intention like the Mass for Peace, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Holy Hour, the praying of the holy Rosary, or any other celebrations of the Word of God.”
In India, Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, hailed Pope Francis for “constantly voicing his concern for the humanitarian situation in Palestine and Israel.” He reiterated the Pope’s call for all Christians to pray as one for peace in the Holy Land, encouraging gatherings in parishes, religious institutions, and even just family gatherings to take part in an hour of prayer on October 27.
“Let us collectively undertake acts of penance to commit ourselves to the pursuit of reconciliation and peace. Our combined efforts, aided by God’s grace, can bring hope and healing to a land that has long yearned for peace,” Cardinal Ferrao added.
In the US, many dioceses and archdiocese have already banded behind the Pope’s call to prayer. In the Diocese of St. Cloud, Bishop Patrick M. Neary will be holding Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the intention of world peace. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in his call to prayer:
“As we continue to pray for peace in our world, a moving quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., comes to mind: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’”
In the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Robert Brennan invited his flock to join him at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James for a Mass of Prayer and Peace. This Mass will take place an hour before Pope Francis’ Holy Hour in St. Peter’s Square, so that parishioners can participate in both prayer events. Bishop Brennan said:
“Any time we pray it’s a good thing, but we’re not about ourselves alone. When the whole world is united in praying for peace, the Lord hears those prayers in a very particular way.”
From the Diocese of Palm Beach, Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito instructed all of his parishes to organize some form of “public forum prayer” that the faithful can attend. He himself will be conducting a Holy Hour at St. Ignatius Cathedral on the day. He wrote:
“An excellent form of prayer is a deliberate act of love to someone with whom we may have some difficulty or disagreement in our lives. Offering up such love is so much needed in our world in which we can make a small but significant difference.”
Meanwhile, the Diocses of Grand Rapids has released a list of every parish that will hold prayer services or Masses to ease access to the faithful.
Be sure to check your own diocese’s website to find out where to attend Mass or prayer sessions to pray in unity on October 27, 2023.