September 4, 2013. (Romereports.com) Pope Francis strongly reaffirmed his calls for peace. During the first general audience after his summer vacation, he invited the world to take part in a day of fasting and prayer for peace, including a prayer vigil he will lead at St. Peter's Square on Saturday, September 7.
“This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. But also for the peace in our hearts, because peace begins in our hearts. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brothers and sisters, to the brothers and sisters of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own.”
The Pope also had a special reminder for youth, and he thanked them for adding to his experience during July's WYD in Brazil.
“Without Him, we cannot achieve anything; with Him, any young person can provide hope for God, and for others. Do you want to become that hope? Do you dare to change the world, to make it more beautiful and fair? World Youth Day reminds us of the greatest lesson throughout history: that God loves us, and Jesus Christ is our salvation.”
Before the general audience, the Pope once again reached out to the pilgrims at St. Peter's Square. He took a large ride on board his Popemobile through the crowd, greeting dozens of children and the sick. About 50,000 people showed up to see him.
In the 14 general audiences Pope Francis has celebrated so far, the Vatican has issued nearly 825,000 admission tickets. But that number doesn't include tourists that gathered at the Square without a ticket. According to the Vatican, the attendance for Pope Francis' audiences are three times larger than the initial statistics for John Paul II and Benedict XVI.