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Heeding Pope's call to pray for peace, Trinity students ponder Mideast crisis

MANCHESTER — Not every student at Trinity High School is following the news over the Syrian government's alleged use of gas on its own people as closely as Kasie Bourque.

The senior had seen the pictures in the news of the dead children and teenagers.

"It was hard to see," she said. "I can't imagine walking down the street and seeing my friends gassed."

She and about 440 classmates attended a brief prayer service outside school Friday morning, with four students carrying a cross in a procession.

Pope Francis has called for the world to fast and gather to pray for peace today. Some New Hampshire churches have scheduled special Masses.

Trinity senior Stephen Merrill said he's following developments in Syria daily.

"I think the United States should stay out of it because we have enough on our plate," Merrill said.

He fears the Syrian rebels challenging the government troops include terrorists. "We shouldn't be supporting them and helping them," Merrill said.

Bourque said the United States, which is contemplating using cruise missiles to strike strategic targets in Syria, is in a difficult spot.

"If we go into Syria it looks like we're trying to control everything," Bourque said. "If we don't go into Syria, it looks like we don't care."

She thinks the United States should stay out of the fight. "It's not our place," Bourque said.

A half-dozen other students interviewed said they hadn't followed developments closely.

"I'm kind of indifferent," said sophomore Jason Dufour. "Something should probably be taking place. I'm not actually sure. Obviously, there's bad stuff going on."

Sophomore Sage Szczechowicz said: "I didn't even know anything was going on."

Freshman Oliver Thomas said: "I've heard there's been bad things going on."

Thomas said he thought the prayer service was a good idea.

"I think it's great and we're thinking of other people and helping the community come closer together for peace," he said.

Pope Francis urged the international community to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict in Syria and announced on Sunday that he would lead a worldwide day of prayer for peace in the country today.

Francis condemned the use of chemical weapons, blamed by Western powers on Syrian government forces, but added: "war, never again". The United States and France are considering military action against Damascus in response to the chemical attack.

The Pope asked the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world to pray today for peace in Syria and said he would lead a special service at the Vatican.

He invited other Christians, members of other religions and all "people of good will" to join the Catholic initiative today in any way they saw fit.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.


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