Many Catholics around the Quad-City region are expected to join a nationwide call for fasting and prayers on Saturday to help achieve peace in Syria.
In churches from Bettendorf to Rock Island to Clinton, prayer vigils are planned as well as additional petitions for peace in the war-torn Middle East country.
Pope Francis called on Sunday for the fasting and prayer events to be held Sept. 7, so St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City will be a prayer setting, too.
Two days later, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York both called for a peaceful end — without military action — to the conflict in Syria that has taken an estimated 100,000 lives. Dolan is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Pates is the chairman of the conference's Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Locally, Bishop Martin Amos of the Diocese of Davenport asked for priests in the southeast Iowa diocese to consider using the Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice instead of the Mass that is normally said on that day of the week.
It also has been suggested that priests consider a special prayer during the services: "For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace, we pray to the Lord."
Amos also asked, if possible, that Catholic churches be left open Saturday for those who want to enter them and pray for peace in Syria.
A specific time for prayer has been set at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 2502 29th Ave., Rock Island. An "Hour of Prayer and Song for Peace in Syria" begins at 3:30 p.m. at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 4097 18th St., Bettendorf.
The services at St. John Vianney will be a combination of Scripture readings and songs, said Eleanor Kiel, the director of liturgy and music at the Bettendorf church. Bible readings from both the Old Testament and New Testament are to be included, especially those that speak to peace and understanding in the world. There will be moments of silence followed by a litany for peace, which Kiel will lead.
"We'll keep it simple," she said, explaining that the church is trying to be proactive in encouraging a more positive and peaceful solution to the civil war in Syria.
"Through prayer and activism, we can bring some potential light into the situation," she said.
In Clinton, a petition for peace in Syria will be added to services, said the Rev. Ken Kuntz of Prince of Peace Catholic Church.
The Catholic Sisters of St. Francis, based in Clinton, will join in fasting and prayers for peace, Sister Nancy Miller said. She is co-coordinator of the Center for Active Non-Violence and Peacemaking with the congregation.
"Peace is a precious gift that must be promoted and protected," she said, adding, "War is not an answer."