VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is ramping up its opposition to threatened military strikes against Syria.

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Catholics and non-Catholics alike to participate in his planned day of fasting and prayer for peace Saturday, urging more than 50,000 people gathered for his weekly general audience: "Let the cry for peace rise up across the Earth!"

The Vatican has invited ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to attend a briefing Thursday on the pope's agenda for the four-hour vigil Saturday night, and bishops' conferences from around the world have announced plans to host local versions of the vigil as well.

In recent speeches, tweets and remarks, Francis has called for a negotiated settlement in Syria but has also condemned the use of chemical weapons.

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