Over at the Washington Post, our former editor in chief Drew Christiansen offered his thoughts on prayer, fasting and Syria's civil war:
With no end in sight for Syria’s dreadful civil war,Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace on Saturday, September 7. With the fecklessness of the international community, and with no prospect that limited military intervention will bring relief to the victims of war, we should be driven to our knees. It is a moment for the church to pray for God to grant peace where men have failed to dampen the fires of war and see no prospect of doing so soon.
The turn to prayer at a juncture like this is not just a Catholic thing. It is a profound human need which others can share, because humanity is face to face with its own powerlessness to prevent the cruelest evils from being done. For that reason, the pope has made his request “a universal invitation” to all men and women “of peace.” In doing so, he is giving voice to humanity’s desire for peace. He is also inviting us to come to grips with our inability to bring about peace and to voice our exasperation at the intransigence of so many now blocking the way to peace.
Prayer and fasting may be especially important exercises for us can-do Americans. The debate over whether to briefly intervene in the Syrian conflict offers an occasion to reflect on the human and national limitations that most times we are so ready to ignore or deny. After a wrong-headed war in Iraq and that country’s ongoing travails, after the very limited and probably temporary successes in Afghanistan, after so many veterans wounded in mind and heart, with the continuing chaos and repression in Egypt, we Americans have many reasons to reflect on our human limitations and particularly on the evident incapacity of military power and governmental influence to bring about the good we desire.
Read the rest here.