Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shall we accept the pope's invitation?

Apparently, Pope Francis was greatly affected by the use of chemical weapons in Syria. He is a world leader, though not the kind I usually respect. So it's good that he's calling for peace. He even invited us -- atheists -- to join him in a symbolic gesture at St. Peter's Square on Saturday.
Pope Francis on Sunday condemned the use of chemical weapons, but he called for a negotiated settlement of the civil war in Syria, and announced he would lead a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace there on Sept. 7.
I know. Fasting and prayer. What good does that do? On the other hand, he's going to assemble a huge crowd -- and we're specifically invited.
Francis invited Catholics, other Christians, those of other faiths and non-believers who are "men of good will" to join him that evening in St. Peter's Square to invoke the "gift" of peace for Syria, the rest of the Middle East and worldwide where there is conflict.

"The world needs to see gestures of peace and hear words of hope and of peace," Francis said.
He's right about that last bit. If I lived in Rome, I might toddle by and see if there's a large atheist contingent in the group. In that respect, it could be interesting. Plus, having invited atheists to join in, I wonder if he'll try to avoid the usual Christian prayers and perhaps speak in a secular way that can reach everyone.

Whatever. Prayer is useless, and fasting accomplishes nothing outside of a prison setting. But I do like the fact that this is the second time Francis included "non-believers" in an invitation. Between this and his "who am I to judge" remark about gays, I have to say this pope is a big improvement on the last one.

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