Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Syria and invited all people of goodwill to take part in a worldwide fast and vigil of prayer and penance Saturday.
He urged Catholics in Rome to join him that evening for a vigil in St. Peter's Square and invited non-Catholics to "join in this moment, in their own places and ways."
The pope made his remarks Wednesday during his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square.
Greeting Arabic-speaking pilgrims in the square, Pope Francis urged them to "be a presence of God's mercy and bear witness to the world that tribulations, trials, difficulties, violence and evil can never conquer him who has conquered death: Jesus Christ."
Francis concluded, "May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!"
The vigil for peace was first announced at the Sept. 1 Sunday Angelus. Since then, many local churches have organized their own initiatives to mark the day.
Catholic News Service has a video montage of images of Syria and the pope's address:
Vatican Radio's translation of the full text of Pope Francis' appeal follows:
This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter's Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!
[Catholic News Service and Vatican Radio contributed to this story.]