Gozo children to join Syrian children in Prayer for Unity & Peace

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Gozo children to join Syrian children in Prayer for Unity & PeaceOnce again ACN Malta is inviting children from Gozo to join one million others worldwide who will be praying for peace by reciting the Rosary on Tuesday, the 18th of October. So far over 5840 children in the Maltese islands have signed up to participate. They will each receive a small rosary.

ACN Malta said that in many places throughout the world today violence prevails and the threat of widespread armed conflict is one of the greatest dangers we face right now. Pope Francis highlighted this when he said "In the world there are numerous armed conflicts taking place. It is a sort of Third World War, conducted in piecemeal fashion… This battle is first and foremost a spiritual one, and therefore above all we need to pray, with profound trust – and who better than the children can help us with this task?"

The aim of this event is to spread the message of praying for the inner peace of each human being, as well as for the unity and peace of the family, the country and the whole world. Pope Francis says the Rosary, in many ways, is the "synthesis of the history of God's mercy," but that far from removing us from life's problems it "demands that we immerse ourselves in the history of each day, so as to grasp the signs of Christ's presence in our midst."

This year's initiative is linked to an appeal for peace to be restored and the war to end in Syria by a million Syrian school children that was co-ordinated by ACN. For the past few weeks, children at more than 2000 schools all over Syria have been drawing and writing messages to the political decision makers of the European Union and United Nations under the motto "Peace for Children."Gozo children to join Syrian children in Prayer for Unity & PeaceThis appeal for peace is a joint campaign being carried out by Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Syria, and members of all religious communities have been invited to take part. In addition, Syrian schoolchildren – including many Muslims – have written messages to the global community on white balloons saying "We want peace!" "Give us our childhood!" "We don't want any more war!" and "We want to go to school!"

ACN Malta said that acting as "Ambassadors of the Children," Patriarch Gregorios III, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic church, as well as Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem of Homs, who will represent the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and Bishop Selvanos Boutros Al Nemeh of Homs of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate are travelling together to Brussels and Geneva from 10 to 13 October to present the children's letters and drawings to high-ranking representatives of the European Union and United Nations.

Among others, the church representatives will meet with the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. In Geneva, they will give the children's messages to the High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr Filippo Grandi, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Al-Huzain.Gozo children to join Syrian children in Prayer for Unity & PeaceACN Malta is the local office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN ), an international Catholic organisation which primarily strives to help nurture the faith and well-being of persecuted and suffering Christians worldwide. Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named "An outstanding Apostle of Charity"

ACN supports important projects undertaken by the local Church (bishops, priests, Sisters and lay people) in over 130 countries including Iraq and Syria. These range from giving aid to refugees and building churches to providing essential transport for our field workers and even distributing copies of our Child's Bible.

ACN Malta said that the children's campaign for peace arose from an initiative of the international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Since the conflict began in March 2011, the charity has been active in supporting the victims of the war and providing financial support, in particular for families who have lost their homes, have been forced to flee within the country or have been displaced. Aid is primarily granted to projects that secure the immediate survival of the people, and especially of children and babies.

"A sizable amount of the financial aid is used to procure accommodation for what are in general large families with many children, to supply essential foods and medicines as well as baby formula and diapers, warm winter clothing and heating oil and electricity. It is also being used to ensure that children can attend school."

The aid is provided directly to the families in need, irrespective of their religious affiliation, through Catholic bishops and local church structures. Since 2011, ACN through its benefactors including those in Malta, has provided emergency aid amounting to approximately 13 million euro.

Photographs: Aid to the Church in Need

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