Middle East is the greatest crisis
18 Sep 2014 | Blog | Emergency Relief
By Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis
Every minute, four children inside Syria are forced to flee their homes. Extremists in Iraq and eastern Syria are carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the large areas under their control. Large tracts of the best lands are being confiscated by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
We are confronted with the greatest crisis the world has faced since the Second World War.
And in a terrible echo of that war, in Mosul in Iraq, the Arabic letter for “n,” the first letter in the word “Nazarene”, was painted on doors to identify the homes of Christians who were then beaten or executed.
How do we confront such evil?
The West seeks to build a military alliance and send more bomber planes and drones to Syria and Iraq.
But further violence is never the answer. It will just lead to more ‘senseless slaughter’ in the words of Pope Benedict XV, describing the 1914-1918 Great War. As we mark the centenary of that conflict, we also recall that Pope Benedict XV said at the time: “Force can repress the body, but it cannot repress the souls of men”.
Pope Francis said last week, “War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth.” Then in a message to Arabic speaking pilgrims at the General Audience last Wednesday, Pope Francis said, “The Church faces hatred with love, defeats violence with forgiveness; responds to weapons with prayer.”
…Peace in the Middle East must be based on justice for all peoples. It must not be imposed from outside, but achieved from within. We need inclusive regional talks.
“Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare,” said Pope Francis to his guests – the Israeli and Palestinian Presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas – as he welcomed them to his home in June for an Invocation for Peace in the Holy Land.
Join me in praying for courage for our political leaders and a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, s.d.b. became the 11th President of Caritas Internationalis during the 2007 General Assembly. He is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice in the global fight against poverty.
Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga presented this speech during a meeting of Caritas leaders from around the world earlier this week.
Caritas Australia is part of the international confederation of Caritas organisations. We are currently supporting the Caritas response in Syria and Gaza. Find out more about Caritas Australia’s response in the Middle East »
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