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Thank God for the Pope Who Is Willing To Pray and Risk for Peace in the Middle East

By Deacon Keith A Fournier
6/12/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Like his namesake, Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis is an instrument of peace.

This prophetic and historic meeting happened in the Vatican on Sunday. Francis told those in attendance - Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare, the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity". We  call upon God in an act of supreme responsibility before our consciences and before our peoples.  We cannot bring about peace on our own, and that is why we are here. Because we know and we believe that we need the help of God. We have heard a summons, and we must respond.  It is the summons to break the spiral of hatred and violence, and to break it by one word alone: the word brother"  But to be able to utter this word we have to lift our eyes to heaven and acknowledge one another as children of one Father.

This Pope believes in the power of prayer. He also carries in his heart a burden for peace in the Middle East. He knows there is an indispensable connection between the two. He wants to unleash the Love of God, the most powerful weapon we have against the growing scourge of violence in the land where the Prince of Peace walked, talked, loved, lived, died and was raised.

This Pope believes in the power of prayer. He also carries in his heart a burden for peace in the Middle East. He knows there is an indispensable connection between the two. He wants to unleash the Love of God, the most powerful weapon we have against the growing scourge of violence in the land where the Prince of Peace walked, talked, loved, lived, died and was raised.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - After the celebration of Mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem, on the morning of Sunday May 25, 2014Pope Francis issued the invitation:

"In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with Israeli President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace.  I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.

"I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer. In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace.

All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. All of us - especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples - have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers.

Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace."

On the way back to Rome, Francis was asked about the invitation to the two world leaders by journalists on the plane. He responded:

"The most authentic gestures are those that we don't think about, those that come to us, aren't they? I thought about suggesting it during the trip, but there were many logistical problems, because each one has to consider the territory, and it's not easy.

So I thought about a meeting, and at the end, I came up with this invitation. It will be an encounter to pray, not for the purposes of mediation. We will pray with the two presidents; prayer is important, it helps. Afterwards, each person will return home. There would be a rabbi, a Muslim, and myself."

Like his namesake, Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis is an instrument of peace.  I remember with admiration and hope what occurred as a result of his call for a day of global prayer on September 7, 2013. The world was invited to pray for peace, in Syria, the extended Middle East, and around the world.

In a heartfelt cry the Pope used his Sunday Angelus address of September 1, 2013, to implore the parties engaged in the atrocities in Syria to cease, crying out with prophetic voice, "War begets war, violence begets violence."

He then announced that, on Saturday, September 7, 2013, he would lead a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world. He did what he said and the circumstances changed. That is because God is real - and prayer is powerful.  Pope Francis knows both of these truths and is unafraid to act accordingly.

While US warships were being deployed to the Red Sea in the event of military action taken against Syria - and the US Congress prepared to debate authorizing the use of such force - the leader of over 1.2 billion Catholics asked Catholics and all Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will, to deploy the weapons of peace, prayer and fasting.

This Pope believes in the power of prayer. He also carries in his heart a burden for peace in the Middle East. He knows there is an indispensable connection between the two. He wants to unleash the Love of God, the most powerful weapon we have against the growing scourge of violence in the land where the Prince of Peace walked, talked, loved, lived, died and was raised. 

This is the place where the Word Incarnate began the New Creation. This is the Holy Land. The escalating violence must come to an end. The love of God is the only real lasting means to authentic peace. This is true as individuals, as families, as a Church, - and as Nation-states and a global community.  In a world spiraling out of control, Christians are particularly called to become instruments of peace. Pope Francis is willing to do so.
 
At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid". (John 14:27)  The path to peace passes through prayer - because peace requires Gods assistance.

This prophetic and historic meeting happened in the Vatican on Sunday. Francis told those in attendance: Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare, the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity.

We  call upon God in an act of supreme responsibility before our consciences and before our peoples.  We cannot bring about peace on our own, and that is why we are here. Because we know and we believe that we need the help of God.

We have heard a summons, and we must respond. It is the summons to break the spiral of hatred and violence, and to break it by one word alone: the word brother.  But to be able to utter this word we have to lift our eyes to heaven and acknowledge one another as children of one Father.

The Israeli president Shimon Peres said: "It is within our power to bring peace to our children. This is our duty, the holy mission of parents." The Palestinian President Mahoumoud Abbas called on God to bring a "comprehensive and just peace" to the region. He also quoted St. John Paul II "if peace is realized in Jerusalem, peace will be witnessed in the whole world".

Accompanying Francis throughout the time of encounter and prayer was his friend, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. The two walked together throughout the recent visit to the Holy Land. Again, the joining together of Simon and Andrew was a prophetic sign of the times in which we live. Christian unity is an essential part of any real peace in the place where Jesus walked.

This event was not only historic, it was courageous. It has also met with numerous and differing responses, from utter rejection and opposition, to hope for success, to various brands of criticism. In the Catholic and broader Christian community, it is being parsed and debated, increasingly becoming fodder for theological disputations and endless postings in the blogo-sphere. Some of the discussions are helpful and sincere, others are not.

Thank God for the Pope who is willing to pray and risk for peace in the Middle East.

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