Three Catholic organisations, the National Justice and Peace Network, Pax Christi and CAFOD have come together to urge parishes, religious communities and schools around the country to set aside time every Friday to pray for peace in Iraq and the Middle East. They believe in the need for strong Christian solidarity and prayer at this very fragile time and will distribute special prayer cards which invite people to pray for an hour, a day or even to organise 24-hour prayer vigils every Friday during the coming months. Rosa Shea, chair of the National Justice and Peace Network said: " We are conscious that the lives of many people in Iraq and the Middle East are already blighted by violence and suffering. They now face an even greater threat of violence which would create an intolerable burden. It would be wonderful to think of our cathedrals, convents, parish communities and schools becoming beacons of prayer and hope for peaceful alternatives. This would be a great witness within our own country and an act of solidarity with those who are suffering." The groups have written the following prayer: We come to you, God Creator. You are the source of life and beauty and power. Your son Jesus is the way of faith and hope and love. Your Spirit is the fire of love, the fount of wisdom, the bond of unity. You call us at all times to be people of the beatitudes, Witnesses to the Gospel of peace and love and forgiveness. You call us at this time, when war and rumours of war, weigh heavily on the peoples of Iraq and the Middle East. Their lives are already broken by suffering and violence. We renew our acceptance of your call. We promise to work: To bring the light of the Gospel to those living in darkness, To bring the hope of the Gospel to those living in despair, To bring the healing of the Gospel to the lonely, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, And to bring the peace of the Gospel to a divided world. Amen.
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