ROME – People around the world answered Pope Francis’s call during his Wednesday general audience to stop for a moment of prayer at 1:00 pm Rome time on Thursday, June 8.
On Wednesday, Francis said “in our days, there is a great need to pray – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.”
The initiative was begun in the pope’s native Argentina. Various offices of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference together with the national chapter of Catholic Action promoted the event.
In India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, and his entire staff stopped at 4:30 pm local time to join the pope in prayer.
Gracias said he was “praying for peace in Asia, Middle East and places of prolonged conflict all over the world; and prayers for peace for our beloved India.”
Several dioceses around the world used social media to promote the prayer event, and many sent out a tweet at the appointed hour to remind people to pray.
Even popstar Miley Cyrus asked her 68 million followers on Instagram to join the pope in prayer, saying “This sounds like a great idea! Let’s dooooo it! ❤️ this might just change everythiiiiing!”
June 8 was chosen because it was the third anniversary of the 2014 meeting the pope held in the Vatican Gardens with late Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Argentine Bishops’ Conference put out a statement saying the anniversary of the event was chosen because that is where the three men “prayed to invoke the gift of peace, and tear down the walls of enmity.”
The statement said the minute of prayer is a “simple” but “massive” way to be a promoter of peace.
Emilio Inzaurraga, the national coordinator of the Argentine Bishops’ commission for Justice and Peace, said the aim was to “draw attention to the fact each of us can be an instrument of peace.”
He said the small gesture of a minute for peace could serve as “the beginning of an option for dialogue and fraternity.”
Inzaurraga pointed to the “courageous gestures” of Francis, saying “his words and witness show us the way.
“His insistence on dialogue and the culture of encounter, making the small effort of visiting places in conflict, as recently as Egypt, his tireless work with leaders of estranged or warring countries, his condemnation of violence and terrorism, his ecumenical and interreligious work: These are all concrete actions to take steps in the direction of a world at peace.”
Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this report from Mumbai.