Day of Fasting, Penance and Prayer on Friday, October 27 for Peace in the Middle East and Ukraine

From Pope Francis’ General Audience in Vatican City on Oct. 18, 2023.

Today too, dear brothers and sisters, our thoughts turn to Palestine and Israel. The number of victims is rising and the situation in Gaza is desperate. Please, let everything possible be done to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

The possible widening of the conflict is disturbing, while so many war fronts are already open in the world. May weapons fall silent! Let us heed the cry for peace of populations, of the people, of the children! Brothers and sisters, war does not solve any problem: it sows only death and destruction, foments hate and proliferates revenge. War cancels out the future. I urge believers to take just one side in this conflict: that of peace. But not with words — with prayer, with total dedication.

With this in mind, I have decided to call for a day of fasting and prayer, of penance, on Friday 27 October, to which I invite sisters and brothers of the various Christian denominations, those belonging to other religions and all those who have at heart the cause of peace in the world, to join in as they see fit. That evening, at 6 p.m., at Saint Peter’s, we will spend an hour of prayer, in a spirit of penance, to implore peace in our time, peace in this world. I ask all the particular Churches to participate by arranging similar activities involving the People of God.

A Prayer for Peace by Pope Francis

Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
We have tried so many times and over so many years
to resolve our conflicts by our own powers
and by the force of our arms.
How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced;
how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered;
how many hopes have been buried…
But our efforts have been in vain.

Now, Lord, come to our aid!
Grant us peace, teach us peace;
guide our steps in the way of peace.
Open our eyes and our hearts,
and give us the courage to say:
“Never again war!”; “With war everything is lost”.
Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.

Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, 
you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. 
Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; 
enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. 
Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens 
who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, 
our trepidation into confident trust, 
and our quarreling into forgiveness.

Keep alive within us the flame of hope,
so that with patience and perseverance
we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. 
In this way may peace triumph at last, 
and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” 
be banished from the heart of every man and woman.
Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. 
Renew our hearts and minds, 
so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, 
and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!


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