Filipino bishops declare day of prayer for peace in Iraq, Syria

(CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of the Philippines have appealed their faithful to join in a national day of prayer in solidarity with persecuted Christians, especially those suffering in Iraq and Syria under the Islamic State.

During a Sept. 2 meeting, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines unanimously set the upcoming Sept. 14 as a National Day of Prayer for Peace.

The day of prayer coincides with the celebration of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

“We request the Most Reverend Archbishops and Bishops to oblige all priests to celebrate all Masses that day for the special intentions of the persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, who is also president of the Filipino bishops’ conference.

He exhorted all Church leaders and the faithful to mark the day with particular prayer intentions for the modern-day martyrs, and appealed for a special charity fund in supporting the persecuted victims in Iraq and Syria.

“In all our Masses on the feast of the Holy Cross, let us unite ourselves with our suffering brothers and sisters, commending to the God who is our hope their pains, their shattered lives and dreams, their bereavement, and their loss.”

“The Gospel of peace, love and brotherhood is under siege in many parts of the world, especially in Iraq and Syria”, noted Archbishop Villegas, who urged Filipinos to respond first and foremost through “prayer, accompanied by charity and solidarity.”