Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Building the Peace

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester distributes a newsletter called Justice Update. We would like to share a portion with you:
Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, there is wide consensus that little good has come from the decision to go to war. Anger and fear after the September 11 attacks clouded the judgement of many citizens and legislators, allowing the ill-conceived pre-emptive war to proceed. We are left with the responsibility for a country in ruins - many of it's people dead or scattered as refugees, thousands of our own dedicated young men and women dead as war casualties, tens of thousands of others whose lives have been shattered by visible and invisible war wounds, our own economy in shambles, and no good way out.

Shortly after the start of the war, Pope John Paul II declared, "When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is even more urgent to proclaim with a determined voice, that peace alone is the way to construct a more just and caring society." Later that same day, the Pope said, "Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men.”

The next peace needs to begin today. We may not have all the answers about how to withdrawal from Iraq, but that should not keep us from speaking out loudly and regularly against policies that threaten human dignity and for policies that build peace. Our economy should not be based on the profitability of the weapons industry. Torture has no place in American policies. Lessening our dependence on imported oil means developing technologies that use renewable forms of energy.

How can we begin to build that peace today? Some thoughts:
Spend quiet, reflective time in prayer each day. Peacebuilders need to be centered in peace and open to God's nudges.

Find a community of supporters. Peacebuilding can make others uncomfortable. You need some like-minded people who believe in peace and can support your efforts.

Bring it into the conversation in your parish. Bulletin quotes, small group discussions, prayer services can help to remind parishioners that decisions about war and peace have everything to do with our religious beliefs. Take advantage of important dates to raise up peace issues. Small Christian Communities or Bible study groups might be challenged to study and discuss, "The Challenge of Peace" on the 25th anniversary of it's publication by the U.S. Catholic Bishops.