A woman prays as Pope Francis leads a vigil for peace in Syria.
People of many faiths and no faith from all over the world heard Pope Francis’ plea that we fast and pray for peace in Syria on Sept. 7. In response, millions prayed and fasted. Two days later, there seemed to be a break in the political stalemate.
Even so, we were disarmed by Vladimir Putin’s proposal that Syria surrender its chemical weapons to the international community. Instant backing from Syria, Iran, the UN and European allies was equally surprising.
The world looked for an explanation and wondered whether it could trust the Russians. Politicians found flaws in a plan yet to be developed. Everyone seemed to wonder just what this meant.
Perhaps war-weary belligerents simply tired and decided to try talking rather than fighting.
Or is it possible that God is answering our prayers by giving us another opportunity to give peace a chance?
Instead of launching ship-based missiles at Syrian targets, diplomats will have a go at a peaceful solution to the intractable problem of weapons of mass destruction. For the time being, the Obama Administration’s push for a military intervention has been shelved.
It is too soon to say with any certainty whether the Russian proposal will succeed.
But this bold idea has redirected the discussion from missile targeting to calling on the diplomats to negotiate a non-violent way out for everyone involved.
It is also possible that once the WMD issue is resolved — if it is —the diplomats might even try to resolve Syria’s murderous civil war and silence the guns in this ancient country.
If prayer and fasting took us to this juncture, prayer and fasting can bring us to the next one.