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Diocese of Pittsburgh to Honor Saturday as 'Day of Prayer for Peace'

Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop Zubik will celebrate mass Saturday to honor Pope Francis’ proclamation of a universal day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.

The crisis in Syria has been making headlines ever since an alleged chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb. U.S. and U.K. intelligence reports blame the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad for the attack and indicate that more than 1,400 people were killed, including at least 426 children.

Since then President Obama has indicated that the U.S. should respond militarily, but not without congressional approval.

Zubik said any time violence is used against people is a “tragedy.” He said the people of Syria need to be the main focus of the international community’s deliberations.

“The citizens of that country are innocent people, and my heart, our heart, goes out to them,” Zubik said. “I think that’s the concern of Pope Francis because, when he did speak on Sunday, he talked about ‘the beloved nation of Syria.’ And I think that in his own heart, and in mine as well is a concern for the citizens of that country.”

Zubik said that prayer could help world leaders come to an alternate, non-military solution. He said, as a religious leader, he’s not in the position to decide what the U.S. should be doing.

“Obviously you’re looking at the issue of worldwide security, and that’s something that the leaders of every country have to debate on their own,” Zubik said. “I think our hope is that somewhere along the line opposing sides can come together and resolve this peacefully. And as far as how any country reacts to this situation, that rests on the shoulders of the leaders.”

Mass will be held at the Bishop John B. McDowell auditorium at Saint Paul Seminary in Crafton at 4:30 p.m.