Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Pope Francis Positions Himself as Peacemaker

With his call for peace in the world in the face of another Middle East war, Pope Francis has established himself clearly as a world leader. The Holy Father stepped up the prospects for a peaceful solution to the current mess in Syria when he called upon the world not to intervene militarily in a country that has been charged with murdering its own people in an atrocious manner.

Pope Francis’ call for peace included action as he hastily organized a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square that attracted more than 100,000 people. There was no doubt where the people stood. They were squarely behind Francis’ call for a non-violent solution.

War begets more war has been Francis’ mantra. Violence will produce nothing but more violence.

By doing so, Pope Francis has placed himself in the tradition of his predecessors who have consistently tried to beat back the calls to war – Pope Benedict XV, Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.

Even the American people, who only a decade ago supported President Bush’s intervention into Iraq, seem to have no appetite for more war. We’ve seen what it has accomplished or better what it has failed to accomplish.

Not only is non-violence the moral and prudent way to proceed, but it is also the economical course of action. The nation is already running on acute deficit spending. It only gets worse every time we fire a missile that costs over $1 million apiece. That’s insanity.

And if we had no better reason to resist military intervention, we need only look around us and see no one lining up to support us to tell that we were going down the wrong path.

In an interview on NET-TV’s Currents, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio stood firmly behind the pope’s call for peace.

“He’s getting information from the bishops in Syria who are there on the ground,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “It’s clearly an almost insolvable situation. Because it seems that any intervention will only makes things worse.

“The pope clearly understands that. The pope is asking for real prayer and fasting in asking for the Lord’s intervention.”

For our part here in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop DiMarzio has written to all pastors asking that parishes conduct some eucharistic devotions and for all parishioners to support the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting for peace.

Last weekend, prayer vigils were conducted around the world to coincide with Pope Francis’ prayers at the Vatican. In Washington, D.C., the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, participated in a service at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In Manhattan, the Vatican’s envoy to the U.N., Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, prayed with the congregation at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

President Obama is right on only one count, and that is that something has to be done to counter the atrocities being waged upon the Syrian people. The answer is in a diplomatic solution and building a strong coalition of nations to oppose the evils being perpetrated by men of destruction. The real failure of the current administration has been to build strong international alliances that will oppose evil and work for the good of all mankind.

Pope Francis is building his own international alliance of prayer, and by doing so, he has captured the imagination of the world and is compelling us all once again to consider the Church’s universal call to peace and non-violence.

As parishes announce their plans to participate in the worldwide crusade for peace, we urge all men and women to enthusiastically support these efforts.