This past Sunday, Pope Francis addressed the assembled crowds in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican as is his custom. But on this day, the usually smiling, jovial pontiff wore a somber facade.
The subject of his Angelus talk this Sunday was the bloodbath that has become Syria. With the United States contemplating a military response to the atrocities committed by the Assad regime, the Pope spoke of the need to seek a peaceful solution to what has become the shame of the world.
Gravely, he warned:
"There is a judgement 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."
These dark warnings, however, pale in comparison to communication recently received from a Trappist monastery from deep within Syria. The appeal is almost chilling in nature.
"You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people's faces...And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. ...Just like that. Because 'its time to do something,' as it is worded in the statements of important men...
Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit tomorrow so as to punish us for the gases that we have already breathed in?
The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they're waiting for is a word from Obama!
A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?"
Since the dawn of the 21st century, wars have broken out in nearly every year across the globe. Uncounted numbers have been killed and wounded. Violence has swept throughout the world bringing untold misery to every corner of the earth. Where are the politician's minds who are considering a military response to the sad violence in Syria? Where have they been over these last few years as this bloody conflict in this war torn country raged, taking countless men women and children from the world? Why now? Why military action?
I am not a pacifist in terms of always wanting and thinking that we must attempt peaceful negotiations in every conflict even though it may be quite apparent that no peaceful outcome is possible. However, in the case of Syria, it is my belief that we have no business firing a "shot across the bow" as President Obama spoke of just a few days ago. What will that accomplish? Have we tried negotiating? Have we done everything possible before resorting to military violence?
In his Sunday homily, the Pope invited all Catholics, all Christians, all religious believers and all people of good will to fast and pray this coming Saturday, September 7, for peace in Syria. Fasting is a time honored sacrifice petitioning God for protection and guidance. It is biblical in origin and has been practiced for thousands of years. That evening in Saint Peter's Square, a huge vigil for peace will be held.
Please consider joining the millions who plan to fast and pray on this day for a peaceful solution to the war in Syria. It is time for us to turn to God in humble supplication, asking the Supreme Being for guidance and inspiration in this matter. We must take this opportunity to begin to once again turn our hearts to God in humility, relying on His mercy and compassion for an answer to this pressing issue. Much is at stake here that is far beyond a politician's legacy and reputation. Lives are being lost at an alarming rate and it is time for the nations God has blessed with riches and abundance to take the lead in seeking a peaceful solution to this sad time. It is time for less grandstanding and more serious talking about peaceful ways to peace.
It is often said that peace in the Middle East is impossible since the people of this region have been at war with each other for thousands of years. However, we must never forget the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, "with men this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible." (Mt 19:26)