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Let us all be peacemakers

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Sept. 11, 2013

There is so much pain…and it continues!  

Our hearts break every time we watch the news from the Middle East area and see such brutal disregard for human life, particularly these days in Syria and Egypt.

The historical complexity of the situations makes it difficult, if not impossible, to determine the “good” guys from the “bad” guys. 

One thing is clear, however.  In his Angelus Address at St. Peter’s Square on September 1st, Pope Francis reminded us that “violence begets violence.” Where such is the case, the pain and horrific suffering continue unabated.

As a world leader, some argue that now is not the time for our nation to become an isolationist.  We must flex our military muscle and let the world know that such horrendous mass killings inflicted through chemical warfare, cannot be allowed to stand. A powerful, respected world leader must lead and show the way.  Such people believe that a “measured” violent response will make terrorists and would-be aggressors sit up and take notice.  

It takes a whole lot more courage, tireless energy, and dogged determination to find ways to dialogue with another rather than obliterate them. 

In many ways, our nation has failed to provide moral leadership within our borders.   We pray that, on the international scene, our moral leadership will be evidenced in not losing heart in seeking creative ways to facilitate dialogue. 

While a military response, out of a sense of powerlessness, may make us feel better in the short term, will it end the atrocities or only compound them, throwing fuel on an already extremely volatile situation?

After Monsignor Lawler’s funeral, a parishioner told me that he had such great respect for him because of Monsignor’s ability to listen in a nonjudgmental manner and always offer several different perspectives to consider on a given issue.   He considered Monsignor a very effective peacemaker. 

In addition to the many blessed gifts that Monsignor Lawler has shared with us over the years, his example as peacemaker provides us with a lesson for our personal lives as well for a nation:  the best way to achieve lasting peace is to be a good, non-judgmental listener, looking at issues from many perspectives. God knows it’s not always easy.

In asking us to set aside September 7th as a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, Pope Francis stated:  “It is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between people, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.”

Violence, no matter how “measured,” is always a response indicative of failure…and the pain continues.
Let us turn to Mary, the Queen of Peace, and in a spirit of prayer, penance and hope, seek her maternal intercession for peace in our troubled world. 

Let us re-dedicate ourselves to being peacemakers in our families as we pray for peace among warring peoples far from home.

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