The heartfelt call for prayers by Pope Francis helped guide the United States in holding off on a military strike against Syria, according to Ray Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See under President Bill Clinton.
"Reason finally prevailed in our government. Was it the voice of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin … Or the prayers of Catholics, the urgent plea of Pope Francis and the million calls to our elected national officials?" Flynn asked Newsmax.
"The American people know the answer to these questions."
Flynn's remarks follow Russia's dramatic entry into the Syrian crisis with Putin offering to coral the Assad regime's stash of chemical weapons, and President Barack Obama's plea to Congress
to postpone a vote on military action.
Flynn, who also served as the mayor of Boston, said he has been deeply moved by the response to Pope Francis' call for prayer and peace by Catholics throughout the world. "It reminded me of Pope John Paul's moral voice during the 'cold war' era," he said.
"The world was on the brink of war last week ... With politicians paralyzed and not knowing what to do, Pope Francis called us to both prayer and political action … [He urged] Catholics to contact their elected officials to oppose the bombing. Millions of Americans, including many Catholics, called in protest.
"This urgent matter was discussed in churches throughout the nation … We talked about the need for diplomacy for three straight days ... We called on Catholics to get involved, and they certainly did."
Flynn, who was ambassador to the Vatican from 1993-97, believes political leaders have lost sight of the role peacemakers can play in foreign policy.
"I know from experience, when people are called to speak out against injustice, they will respond — even if they have not been politically active in the past," he told Newsmax.
"I hope it is now apparent to people that they can make a difference and that they must remain vigilant and speak out for peace and political accountability.
"It may seem like a small step to some, but I hope this is a new day for people of goodwill who are committed to peace and justice."
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