Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Threat of War and Pope Francis' Plea for Peace

During his Sunday Angelus address on September 1, Pope Francis announced that the universal Church will observe a day of prayer and fasting for world peace this coming Saturday, September 7. This is a timely and important move by our Holy Father at this critical juncture in world history. With tensions rising in the Middle East and violent conflicts occurring all over the globe, our modern world is desperately in need of the true peace that only Christ can give. Jesus says in the Gospel that certain demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Greed, hatred and violence are three such demons. Driven by certain unscrupulous Wall Street executives and radical political lobby groups here in the United States--some of whom are agents of a foreign power from a nation that is supposedly our ally--our president is now aggressively pushing for a war with Syria despite the vociferous and unanimous objection of religious leaders across the Middle East that such a war would be tremendously devastating for the region and would inflict terrible human suffering on its people. Indeed, a war is the last thing the Middle East needs today. It needs peace based on respect for the rights and dignity of all its peoples. Unfortunately, a secret network of extremist lobby groups and spies for a foreign country are deliberately manipulating events and fomenting violence in the Middle East to suit their own purposes--as they have been doing for many years now. There will be little possibility of true peace emerging in the region until this covert band of fanatical outlaws is exposed, stopped, and brought to justice. For information about the identity and agenda of this godless organized crime outfit, please read my book America's Back-Door Enemy: Unmasking the Unknown Terrorists.

A U.S.-led military invasion of Syria would not be morally justified, for a number of reasons: 1) Peaceful efforts to resolve the conflicts in Egypt and Syria through dialogue, negotiation, and redress of grievances have not even begun, much less proven ineffective; 2) The use of military force would result in evils far worse than the evil to be eliminated through such use of force (i.e., the removal from power of an unjust dictator in Syria); 3) The real motives for the proposed invasion are for the financial benefit of a few private business leaders and for the political benefit of a small group of extremist lobbyists, rather than for the common good of the American and Syrian peoples.

Ten years ago, Blessed John Paul II and our Catholic bishops warned that a war in Iraq would have devastating consequences for the entire Middle East, but we didn't listen. We went to war. We felt compelled to remove Saddam Hussein from power because he was supposedly a threat to our country. Our government lied to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to get us to support a war that generated immense profits for a few American oil executives. We are still seeing the bitter fruits of that war--continued violence and instability, social and economic problems, and a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq (many of whom are now refugees in Syria). Similarly, our government has been lying to us for years about Iran, telling us that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is developing a nuclear weapons program, to prepare public opinion for an eventual unjustified war against that nation. (Iran is not developing nukes in 2013 any more than Iraq had WMDs in 2003. It's just an argument fabricated to justify a war. Nations that really have WMDs such as Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea we leave alone. If we were really interested in ridding the world of WMDs, we would set the example by getting rid of our own stockpile first. We have more than any other country in the world.) Now our government is once again lying to us to try to win our support for an unjustified war against Syria. And once again, our Holy Father and our bishops are strongly warning against an unjustified and unnecessary war. WIll we listen this time to their voices of reason and allow our moral consciences to be properly formed, or will be allow ourselves to be swayed in favor of hell by our corrupt and dishonest politicians in Washington? We should ask ourselves, "Why is our government pushing for war? Why now? What's the real reason? Who stands to benefit, financially or otherwise, from this proposed military intervention?" War profiteering is alive and well in the United States of America in 2013. Citizens beware!

This proposed war can be averted through prayer, fasting, and political action. We should pray and fast for the conversion of those who are pushing for this unnecessary war. War is never inevitable. It is carried out by human beings endowed with intelligence and free will. In order for world affairs to change, human hearts must first change. As Blessed John Paul II reminded us, war is always a defeat for humanity. We should write to our representatives in Washington and demand that they reject this foolish idea of a war with Syria. And we should entrust our efforts to Mary, Queen of Peace, and leave the results to Divine Providence with complete trust in the Sovereign Ruler of the nations who will one day return to judge the world with justice.

Now, here is the text of Pope Francis' Angelus address of Sunday, September 1, 2013:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Hello!

Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children who will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.

May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302). All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity! I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

No comments: